Health Minister Clears Air Over NHIS Comment

Kwaku Agyeman-Manu


The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has clarified statements he made concerning the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) saying his concerns raised have been misinterpreted in the media.

“I attended the annual senior management meeting of the Ghana Health Service in Kumasi … I was admonishing them, telling them that it is not ethical to charge patients who have subscribed to health insurance on some treatments that are on the health insurance benefit package that should go for free, but that was what was happening in our facilities, and I admonished that the practice should stop,” he explained.

He recalled telling the meeting of senior management that Caesarean session, maternal health delivery was for free, however, patients are being made to pay GH¢1,000 and in some instance GH¢3,000 for the free service.

“Then I said that when it happens that way for the end user, it looks like the health insurance is not working.

“I even said that these days even if we are not reimbursing we are paying small small, every month facilities take some money from Health Insurance so why should they charge patients,” he recalled.

The minister further noted that co-payment has been banned so patients are not to pay for the health care they receive.

“Health insurance was established not targeting middle class people but the very poor so they can have access to health, so if you begin to charge them when you should not, you create the barrier that will not enable us to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” he said.

“I said that I have health insurance card but when I go to facilities, I don’t use it, because I am in the position to pay, this is all,” he added.

Mr. Agyeman-Manu therefore expressed surprise at the propaganda being played in the media.

“I think I have done what any health minister would have done, so if you don’t appreciate my work, don’t destroy me,” he said.

He said “the NHIS has cleared the backlog of payments to just four to five month arrears to pay, so why would I come and tell the nation that NHIS is not working?”

Ministry’s Response

Earlier, the Ministry of Health issued a communique to condemn extortions by some healthcare providers which is negatively affecting the scheme.

The ministry also said the Mr. Agyeman-Manu did not threaten to suspend the services of Zipline due to its abuse by some health facilities.

“The Minister bemoaned the practice where some health facilities just place orders for Zipline services not in times when the service is most needed. Due to the unpredicted nature of emerging technologies like Zipline, it will be in the Ministry’s and its agencies’ best interests to periodically review the guidelines around its operations to ensure alignment with Government policies,” it stated.

“The Ministry remains committed to the operations of Zipline in the provision of essential healthcare services and will keep exploring all available means to make this sustainable. We hereby wish to call on the public to disregard these misleading and misrepresentation headlines,” it added.

The Health Minister also lamented the increasing number of lawsuits against health professionals in their line of work.

He observed that few of such cases were recorded when he joined the ministry six years ago, but it has almost become normal for health professionals and their facilities to be sued for negligence.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri