When the NHIS catches a cold

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been hailed as one of the best social intervention policies any government has initiated since independence. When it became operational, it rescued a number of patients, who otherwise would have been detained in various health care institutions around the country for their inability to cater for their bills.

Naturally, it received instant support from hard-up Ghanaians. Unfortunately, it has never enjoyed a good relationship with the new administration that took over from the government of ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor.

There were confused signals from the campaign floor, when the then largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), went round the country promising that when voted into power, a government formed by Prof. John Evans Atta Mills would promote a one-time premium for all those on the NHIS.

Nearly two years at Government House, the Atta Mills Administration has been shifting the goal posts on the single premium. When the Deputy Minister of Health, Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, went public that the cost for the single premium would be in excess of GH¢300, hell broke loose in this country.

The party in government claimed the announcement had no authorisation. Since then, the single premium idea has never been used in official communications on the NHIS.

Meanwhile, confusion has bedeviled the scheme throughout the country. There are many health facilities, where the NHIS exists only in name. There are many pharmacies around the country, where NHIS prescriptions are never honoured.

To add insult to injury, NHIS centres have become football arenas for aggrieved footsoldiers of the party, who march in anger and forcibly close them down, apparently, because officialdom had failed to address their grievances.

The NHIS centres are fast gaining notoriety for zero tolerance of views, other than the official version from the party and its footsoldiers.

That is why The Chronicle is worried by reports that Kwabena Bobie, a local union chairman, was allegedly dismissed on the orders of Sylvester Mensah, Chief Executive Officer of the NHIS, and might have suffered his fate for being too vocal.

We are concerned by workers’ allegations that Kwabena Bobie might have also borne the brunt of the colour of the political party he has sympathy for. We are aware of President Atta Mills’ directive to Ministers, Chief Executives and heads of departments to give prominence to NDC footsoldiers, a policy which appears to be in vogue in contemporary Ghana.

The NHIS is a well thought-through policy. It is many people’s route to quality health care. The NHIS has caught a cold at the moment. Let those directing its welfare not wait until the bout of cold develops into a full malady.

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