From William Nlanjerbor JALULAH,Bolgatanga
Hundreds of clients of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the Upper East Region whose cards have expired and are due for renewal are left to their fate, following an acute shortage of ribbons.
Ribbon used by the scheme, is a thin band of material with biodata of clients and rolled on a plastic device, inserted into a printer that prints out biometric cards of clients.
It has been three weeks now since the district schemes in the Upper East Region ran out of the ribbon.
Checks by The Chronicle in all the schemes in the various districts have revealed that the shortage of ribbons has made it impossible for the schemes to issue cards, a situation which has affected clients whose cards are due for renewal and those seeking to roll onto the scheme.
The shortage has affected all categories of NHIS beneficiaries, including pregnant women, children and the aged.
Our checks at some schemes in the region reveal that some staff now stay away from work because they virtually have nothing to do at their work place.
Information gathered also indicates that last week, Tongo District and Bolgatanga Municipal schemes had to travel to some sister schemes in the Northern Region to ‘beg’ for ribbons before they could attend to some emergency cases.
Some clients who spoke to this reporter lamented that they cannot pay cash to receive the needed healthcare.
A woman from Tongo, who said she was given money to buy maize ar the market on Wednesday lamented how she had used GH¢ 75 of the money to pay for her medical bills, when she visited a health facility.
The situation has compounded the already precarious frustrations that members of the scheme go through, as the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) owes service providers huge sums of money across the country, and as a result, service providers cannot serve their clients satisfactorily.
Sebastian Alagpulinsa, Upper East Regional Director of the NHIA, who confirmed the shortage of ribbons to this paper, however, disclosed that a consignment of ribbons was dispatched to the region on Wednesday February 15, 2017.
Though he could not tell the quantity that had been dispatched, he said it may last for a week or more, while they wait for larger quantity stocks.
He believes the transition could have been responsible for the shortage of the materials, which are imported from the UK.