Tackling dialysis crisis: Private health operators appeal for tax waiver on medical equipment
The Private Health Facilities Association of Ghana (PHFAoG) has appealed for tax waivers on imported dialysis machines and other medical equipment in the country.
It said the taxes on the machines were partly the reason for the limited number of the equipment in hospitals leading to the high cost in the treatment of kidney diseases in the country.
The Vice-President of PHFAoG, Dr Samuel Boakye Donkor, said while it cost between $15,000 and $18,000 to procure a dialysis machine, the high duties at the port made it difficult to import those equipment to set up more dialysis centres in the country.
Dr Donkor made the appeal when members of the association visited the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, in his office in Accra yesterday to discuss the dialysis crisis in the country and the way forward.
The delegation included the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Medicas Hospital who represented the Eastern Region, Dr Yaw Osafo, and the CEO of Living Waters Hospital, Dr Gabriel Sakyi Kwofie.
Dr Donkor said the cost of dialysis should be added to the National Health insurance Scheme (NHIS) to make it affordable for patients.
He also underscored the need for the premium on NHIS which currently stood at GH¢8 for Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributors and GH¢28 for other members of the public, to be increased so that more funds could be accrued for kidney dialysis.
For his part, Dr Osafo said considering the current cost of dialysis machines and taxes, the realistic cost of dialysis per session should have been GH¢742, excluding profit margins.
"We have some of the best brains in the country in terms of qualified doctors but we do not have enough dialysis equipment.
“We know the government is working hard, but we need the support of the private sector to make the services accessible to all persons who need it," he said.
Dr Osafo further said there were only 51 dialysis centres across the country, 60 per cent of which were in the Greater Accra Region and 17.5 per cent in the Ashanti Region.
He said given the rate at which people were developing kidney diseases, it would be prudent for all district hospitals to have dialysis facilities.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah gave an assurance that the government will work to make the cost of dialysis cheaper and accessible.
“This is something that I will raise cogently at Cabinet that if the public sector is not fully able to deliver this public service and the private sector is doing so, it makes sense that we do not let more taxes inhibit their effort to bring in the machines.
“Health is a public service and ordinarily, it will be the job of the government to provide quality and affordable health care.
However, we have financing constraints so if the private sector is coming in to support, it is only a complement to what the government is doing," he said.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah further said that discussions of the kidney dialysis quagmire must be open, frank and national in character, devoid of partisanship.
He also underscored the need for the NHIL to be uncapped so that all funds accruing from the levy could be transferred into the NHIS Fund timeously.