Two Ghanaian renowned health experts have distanced themselves from the recent report on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by Oxfam and some local NGOS, which called for the scrapping of the scheme.
Dr. Irene Agyepong, Greater Accra Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service and Chris Atim, a Health Economist and Executive Director of African Health Economics and Policy Association, were acknowledged by the authors for their contribution to the report which suggested, among other things, that official figures put out as NHIS coverage, were exaggerated and could be as low as 18 per cent.
The report further alleged that the scheme did not cater for the poor and is plagued with lack of transparency and mismanagement.
A statement by the NHIA said the two experts have vehemently dissociated themselves from the report in two separate strongly worded statements.
“Dr. Chris Atim, in his statement, categorically rejected the linking of his name to the report saying, “I emphatically reject Oxfam’s libel on the Ghanaian Health Insurance Scheme which I worked so hard to help establish. We must be aware of the do gooder imperialism that once blinded Africans when the missionaries preceded the colonial invaders.”
In her statement, Dr. Irene Agyepong also rejected the suggestion that she endorsed the report, adding that the widely publicized figure of 18 percent NHIS coverage being suggested by the report was questionable and open to wide errors.
She expressed surprise at the fact that the authors of the report failed to collect independent data to support their rejection of the NHIA data.
“It surprises me that even if they did not trust the official estimates of national coverage from the routine health management information system data, they did not consult survey reports such as the 2008 Ghana demographic health survey in trying to arrive at an estimate of what the current true coverage may be, she stated, adding “It leaves serious doubts in my mind as to their intentions and interest in their current intervention in the health sector in Ghana”.
Last week the NHIA held a press conference to react to the Oxfam report which also suggested that the scheme did not cater for the poor and was plagued with lack of transparency and mismanagement.
Debunking Oxfam’s position and allegations that the NHIS did not benefit the poor, the CEO of the NHIA, Sylvester A. Mensah pointed out that Ghana’s NHIS was structured to provide coverage for the poor and vulnerable. These include children less than 18 years of age, pensioners of the SSNIT Scheme and the elderly above 70years, pregnant women and indigents. All these groups together constitute about 70% of the total registered membership of the NHIS, the CEO explained. It is therefore misleading for the authors of the report to state that the poor were not catered for by the NHIS.
Mr. Mensah also rejected the allegation of lack of transparency within the NHIS and noted that the budget of the NHIA was subject to rigorous ministerial and Parliamentary approval, adding that the NHIA continually disseminates information about its operations through various media including stakeholder engagements.
Click below for signed disclaimers by Dr. Agyepong and Dr. Atim