By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has recorded over 16 million subscribers under its National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), that seeks to provide quality healthcare delivery to Ghanaians, the Deputy Director of Operations of the NHIA, Anthony Gingong has said.
The NHIA is currently running a ‘Special Registration Exercise’ to beef up its data base. The idea is to extend healthcare services to every Ghanaian living in the country.
“This special registration exercise, which started some six weeks ago, has registered over one million people. The exercise alone has shot up our total coverage of the country, in terms of registration, from fifteen million and five hundred, to over sixteen million.”
Anthony Gingong made this observation in an exclusive interview with The Chronicle over the weekend in Accra, when the NHIA, together with the Al-Hayaat Foundation, Muslim Youth in Free Enterprise, and the Member of Parliament for Ayawaso East, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed, organised a breast and cervical cancer awareness and screening program for residents of Nima.
The current figure recorded by the NHIA, according to Gingong, represents sixty six per cent, and hoped that ‘by the close of this year (2010), the NHIA would cover about seventy per cent of the Ghanaian population.”
“The special registration exercise is bringing results. It is giving opportunity to people to have access to health without financial hindrance. In Bawku, where people think that because of conflict people have run away, and that no health activity can be done, in one day, we registered nine thousand people, and we’ve delivered their cards to them,” said Gingong, adding, “We are very convinced that by the end of this year, we should have covered at least seventy per cent of the total population of Ghana with this Special ongoing registration exercise.”
To that end, Gingong challenged the media to use their medium to educate the people and health providers that “once people have registered with the NHIA, they are entitled to free medical care.”
“When there were problems with payments, the media was out there lambasting the NHIA for delaying in payments. Today, we are paying up to date. The complain has been with people going to facilities, and some facilities are asking them to pay extra monies, and I expected the media to pick on this, and to let the people know that once you have registered with the NHIA, you walk into a health facility, and you are supposed to be treated free of charge. Again, this time, it has gone to the blind side of the media.”
The special sensitisation program saw many women in the Ayawaso East Constituency undergoing free breast cancer screening, whilst registering under the NHIA at the Nima Government Clinic.
The women were schooled on symptoms and dangers of cervical and breast cancer, and self breast examination methods.
Commenting on the initiative, the Founder of the Al-Hayaat Foundation, Hajia Hanatu Abubakar, said cervical cancer was the second most common cancer worldwide, and it was time women devoted much attention to fighting the disease, by going for screening.
“The only way to prevent breast and cervical cancer is to go for early screening.
It is only when they detect early abnormalities, that they can do something about it,” she urged.
The Programs Manager for the Muslim Youth in Free Enterprise, Farida Khailann, stressed the need for women to cultivate the habit of self examination of their breasts monthly for early detection of any unusual changes, and report promptly for the necessary medical attention.
Farida however, advised resident Ghanaians, especially, residents of Nima, to patronise the National Health Insurance Scheme to enjoy affordable and quality healthcare, adding that treatment of breast cancer was under the scheme, and that women should take such an advantage to undergo breast screening for early detection of the disease.
About 500,000 cases of cervical cancer are detected yearly worldwide. Out of this figure, 250,000 cases are detected in sub-Sahara Africa. with 100,000 deaths recorded each year.