Govt. affirms commitment to sustain national health insurance

The Minister of Health, Dr. Kweku Agyeman-Mensah, has said the government was committed to put the necessary measures in place to ensure the sustainability of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

He said the medicines component for the reimbursement was a burden and a key challenge which required a multi-stakeholder approach to address.

Dr Agyeman-Mensah said this at a forum organised on the theme ‘Good Governance of Pharmaceuticals—The Impact of Medicines Prices on the Sustainability of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in Accra.

The forum brought together relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors as well as civil society, health care managers, representatives of regulatory bodies in health, public and private health insurance schemes, and health professionals.

The Health Minister said poor-quality essential medicines on the Ghanaian market, inadequate information on the supply of medicines and absent pricing policy for medicines in Ghana were all tackled in a holistic manner involving every stakeholder.

He said the rising demand for health care, dwindling donor support, increasing complexity of Ghana’s health system, current population dynamics and the global and national economic environment which affected the prices of medicines, demanded good governance of the pharmaceutical sector.

Dr Agyeman-Mensah said good governance had dividends in all spheres of the economy, including the health sector.

Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutherodt, Director, Pharmaceutical Services, MoH, said the sustainability of NHIS was being threatened by a number of challenges in the pharmaceutical sector.

These challenges, she said, included inefficiencies in national procurement—which affected the availability of essential medicines— generous reimbursement, irrational prescribing and economic waste

She, therefore, called for a medicine pricing policy, a regulatory enforcement across the sector, the institution of an appeals system in the resolution of grievances and political support for the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in the implementation of its enforcement mandate.

Pharmacist Samuel Kow Donkor, in a statement on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSG), attributed the high cost of drugs in Ghana to the high cost of financing, resulting from the excessive taxes and tariffs imposed on imports and the high cost of borrowing due to delays in reimbursement.

For her part, Mrs Edith Andrew Annan of the World Health Organisation Country Office in Ghana, said the sustainability of NHIS was paramount to achieving universal coverage.

Mrs Annan expressed regrets on the high cost and poor quality of medicines, and corruption and fraud in the supply chain in Ghana and stressed the need for efforts and strategies to address them.

The forum was organized by the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA)—a United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID)-funded initiative to improve sustainable access to medicines through increased transparency in the pharmaceutical sector has taken place in Accra.

MeTA is a multi-stakeholder initiative involving the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ghana Health Service (GHS), World Health Organisation (WHO), DfID and Health Action International (HAI).

MeTA is currently active in Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, Peru, Philippines, Jordan and Kyrgyzstan and is co-ordinated by a joint International MeTA Secretariat (IMS) based in the WHO headquarters..

MeTA Ghana was launched and implemented as a pilot from 2009 to 2013. This was followed by the launch of phase two of the initiative (MeTA 2) in March 2013 and has since been working via a multi-stakeholder approach in the attainment of its objectives. GNA

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