Stakeholders have called for an urgent action to help address the payment of medical examination bills by survivors of domestic violence.
The payment of medical examination bills by survivors of domestic violence, according to stakeholders, discourages many domestic violence victims to report cases as well as to seek justice.
The call was made by the various speakers at a stakeholder engagement on the payment of medical examination bills by survivors of domestic violence, organised by Plan International Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Accra on Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Speaking at the event, the Director of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Owusuaa Kyeremeh, said due to the challenges victims of domestic violence face in the payment of the medical examination bills, many of the victims discontinue their cases along the line.
She said many of the victims are unable to raise the needed money to get the medical examination bill, which is needed to help with the prosecution of perpetuators of domestic violence.
She expressed the worry that although victims of domestic violence are not supposed to pay for the medical examination bill, many health facilities still take monies from such individuals before medical examination reports are issued to them.
ACP Kyeremeh said it was illegal for medical officers to take monies from victims of domestic violence before issuing them with the medical examination report, noting that “It is illegal fees that is being charged; there is no justification for it.”
On his part, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency in the Volta Region, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, proposed to the government to place the payment of the medical examination report by domestic violence victims under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
For him, since the NHIS already has well-structured system, it will be better for them to manage such issues than setting up an entirely new fund to cater for the same purpose.
He said due to the high cost of the medical examination report, many domestic violence victims who cannot afford the payment decide not to pursue their cases for justice, a situation he said emboldens perpetuators of such crimes to continue their activities.
Mr Ablakwa said the decision by the government to set up a new fund to manage domestic violence and its associated cases will rather compound the challenges medical officers and health facilities face in getting monies they spend on survivors of domestic violence.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Titus Beyuo, said if systems are not instituted to ensure the absorption of the medical examination report fee and other expenses medical officers who issue such reports face, particularly when they are called to testify in such cases in courts, a time will come where no doctor will be willing to sign the medical report.
He said medical officers sometimes spend their personal monies to go to court to defend medical examination reports they had issued, noting that the monies they take from victims help to facilitate their travels to courts.
Dr Beyuo also supported the call by the North Tongu MP for the government to put the payment of the medical examination report bill under the NHIS than setting up a new fund.
A Legal Practitioner from the Attorney Generals Department, Madam Victoria Asieduwaa, said the medical report were key in prosecuting offenders who perpetuate domestic violence and that if victims did not get the report, it makes it difficult to get justice for them.