…Caught Registering Her Constituents On Scheme
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West Constituency, Ursula Gifty Owusu-Ekukul, has contradicted claims by her own party and its flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), has collapsed.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful, who is seeking re-election, after entering Parliament in 2013, has admitted she was on course by registering her constituents onto the affordable healthcare, even in the face of the claim by her party that, the scheme has collapsed, because of bad management by the Mahama-led government.
The MP, who is a lawyer by profession, on the Cantonments-based Metro TV, last Friday, touted her achievements, including how she has managed to have her constituents to successfully register on the scheme to meet their health needs.
She told hostess, Josephine Oppong Yeboah, that with support from government she is also building a new Dansoman Polyclinic at Kit Kat, after lobbying for the roads and community schools for the area.
As if her appearance on TV is not enough, she went on social media, displaying a number of pictures of herself and some constituents, excitedly registering for the NHIS.
She spent time updating her followers on facebook periodically, as far as the registering is concerned.
Interestingly, her party is running both TV and radio commercials, claiming the scheme, has collapsed and that an Akufo-Addo government would revive it if voted for to become the President of Ghana.
Some of Ursula’s posts read, “My ongoing free NHIS registration project saw the turn of the Opetekwei Electoral Area yesterday. Nana Addo and NPP will revive its ineffectiveness under this NDC government”.
In another post shared on October 7, 2016, she said “attention please… to all my constituents in Dansomans (Ablekuma West), our free NHIS registration for all the 5 electoral areas which started last week Saturday at Gbebu will continue tomorrow, Saturday October 8 at Divine Healers Church in the Shiabu Electoral area. It is for the aged above 70 years and children below 17 years. Starts at 7:00am prompt”.
Again on October 16, 2016, she posted, “I was there to witness my ongoing free NHIS registration exercise yesterday at the last stop Apostolic Church in the Opetekwei Electoral Area. Shiabu and Gbebu Electoral Areas have had theirs and the next stop for the exercise will be the Mamprobi Okai Electoral Area next week Saturday”.
Ursula added, “Though the NHIS hasn’t been effective under this NDC government, but we have hope in the sight as Nana Addo and the NPP, will come and revive it”.
But the question on the lips of many is that, if indeed, the scheme has collapsed, why are the NPP MPs, registering their constituents or it is just the case that they are lying to their constituents for votes?
In one of their on-going campaign advertisements, the party insists that the NHIS is collapsed. But available statistics proves otherwise.
The president, John Dramani Mahama, has also asked the NPP to desist from registering their members if indeed, their claim that the scheme is not functioning, is true.
Ursula, is not the only NPP MP, registering her constituents on the scheme.
Recently, a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIS, Sylvester Mensah, waded into the debate, saying the scheme bequeathed to the current administration by the then Kufuor government, cannot be said to have collapsed.
He explained that the current scheme, has rather recorded an unprecedented number of subscribers for the past eight years that the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has been in power.
He argued that, the NHIS, is one of the best models across the world, and so it cannot be said to be collapsing, when the total number of usage, rose from 9 million in 2008 to 29 million by 2015.
Indeed, just last week, an eight-member technical delegation from Senegal, were in Ghana to understudy the NHIS.
The leader of the Senegalese team, Mamadou Racine Senghor, told journalists in Accra that, their one week visit was to afford them the opportunity to learn from Ghana’s experience and speed up their process of implementing their own form of health insurance.
According to him, the team will be seeking to acquire lessons in clinical audit, database management, biometric system and the instant issuance of cards.
Other areas of their interest include, claims management, policy monitoring and evaluation, credentialing and provider payment methods.
Mamadou Senghor, also the deputy Chief Executive of Senegal’s Universal Healthcare Coverage Agency, voiced his country’s appreciation to Ghana.
“The government of Senegal and the people are happy and well-informed about the help that Ghana’s NHIS is providing our country in terms of technical assistance. Our choice of Ghana is because of the great work we see you do, providing financial access to healthcare to your people and we are confident that after this tour, Senegal will be able to see its way clearer,” he said at the opening of their one week study visit.
Chief Executive of NHIA, Nathaniel Otoo, welcomed the team, and expressed Ghana’s willingness to help in providing technical assistance to Senegal.
He thanked them for their confidence in Ghana’s system and said various technocrats at the NHIA, would take turns to share lessons with them during their study. He said it was laudable that Senegal was embarking on the journey to provide health insurance for its people.
He, however, cautioned that the road to achieving the objective may not always be smooth. “Ghana aspires to bring healthcare to its entire populace and this is being done through different vehicles. Financing of healthcare is one of these vehicles and that is what we do here at the NHIA. We have had our fair share of successes and challenges. But the challenges haven’t put us off,” Mr. Otoo averred.
The NHIA boss mentioned that, the NHIS, currently has a membership of 11.3million with a network of over 4,000 service providers across the country, comprising public health facilities, private providers and faith-based healthcare institutions.
According to him, the enthusiasm many people show every day in enrolling onto the Scheme, is heart-warming.
Mr. Otoo, said sustainability of health financing schemes, remains a big challenge across the globe, and it was important for the Senegalese health system to have a clear idea of fairly sustainable funding sources even before they take off.
He informed the delegation that, Ghana’s president late last year, commissioned a comprehensive review of the Scheme, the first of its kind in the 13-year history of the NHIS. The review, according to him, will provide Ghanaians the opportunity to re-define the sustainability period of the scheme and re-focus it to meet the nation’s most pressing health priorities.
The NHIA in the last couple of years, has received over a dozen countries and foreign delegations on similar missions. The NHIA, has said that the example of Ghana in purchasing healthcare, makes the country a reference point in the health insurance world.