The Minister for Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has disclosed that Ghana is finalising its roadmap document for the Universal (UHC). This, he said, will orchestrate national efforts to the UHC programme.
Hon. Agyeman-Manu was presenting a paper at the ongoing TICAD 7 in Japan on the topic “Sustainable UHC in Africa through Building Country Ownership”.
He said his sector has carried out studies to create evidence for UHC, adding “we have also undertaken several studies to inform policy and evidence”, which includes CHPS business plan, the Ministry’s programme review, actuarial studies and financial transition roadmap. These, he said, are all geared to fine-tune the systems to ensure that the nation can move a little faster than where it is at the moment.
The Health Minister said significant progress has been made in health governance by the development of the national roadmap. The UHC roadmap, he explained, will define UHC and what it means to Ghanaians so that citizens will be clear about its goals and milestones.
“In our roadmap, we are trying to look at our baseline situation for some parameters we have identified. And want to see if we can flow that up to see what progress we can bring. That apparently will constitute our UHC package of care and services”, the Hon Minister said.
On the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), he disclosed that active membership coverage as of 2018 from the baseline survey was about 35 per cent. Hon. Agyeman-Manu believes Ghana should have covered more than 50% but was confronted with some challenges in the last few years before 2017.
“Our macro-economic indicators were bad; monies that should have gone to support health insurance were not going, so providers were not happy with indebtedness of the scheme to them. We, therefore, slowed down”, he said.
Hon. Agyeman-Manu said a lot of people could not access and renew their membership of the scheme around that time. But things have changed, and as of now, people have started renewing their membership. The government has paid all arrears owed service providers and NHIS is gradually working again in the country. “That’s why we move to around 40 per cent and came back to 35 per cent” he added.
On challenges in attaining UHC in Ghana, he said financing activities in the sector while transitioning from external support, and the heavy burden for domestic resource mobilization are key challenges confronting the sector.
Ghana is moving gradually into a middle-income country and donors are withdrawing gradually and the nation would have to make conscious effort to raise resources at the domestic level to fund all these activities. That, according to him, presents a challenge.
We need to increase public confidence in health services and address extra cost issues making NHIS functional. We do not want to leave anyone behind, therefore we are using innovative technologies to make sure we reach hard to reach areas. Strengthening partnerships with the private sector in their response to emergency health needs. We are improving on emergency preparedness.
UHC by Ghana’s definition implies all people living in Ghana should have timely access to high-quality health services irrespective of ability to pay at the point of use.