The Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights has raised concerns about the number of Ghanaians who do not have access to health care due to poverty.
To this end, the group has called for the implementation of what it describes as Free Healthcare at the point of need to make it accessible to all.
In a statement to mark International Universal Health Coverage, UHC Day, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator of the Alliance, Leonard Shang-Quartey said the Free Healthcare at the point of need should be an improvement on the existing National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, to eliminate the financial element of registration and renewal, to enable all persons classified as extremely poor to benefit from it.
“The NHIS is widening access but has left the poor behind. Though the NHIS has been a major game changer in terms of ensuring financial risk protection for many Ghanaians, its current coverage arrangements have rendered it less effective at ensuring equity. The total number of active membership of the NHIS was about 12 million people as at the end of 2019. Of this number 5.6% (672,000) were covered by the indigent provision of the scheme and provided NHIS services without charge”, he said.
Though Ghana has expanded and improved its health care system through programmes such as the NHIS and the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) to prevent catastrophic health spending while bringing health to the door steps of Ghanaians across the country, more needs to be done to achieve greater success.
Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights said about 6.1 million poor people and 1.7 million extremely poor people in Ghana still do not have access to health care under Ghana’s current health care systems arrangements.
It said lessons from COVID-19 have shown that spending in the health sector secures the economy.
This, Mr. Quartey noted, strengthens the resolve and position of the UHC campaigners that ill health of people, be they communicable or non-communicable, affects not only the individual patient but also the family, the community and the entire country.
“This is precisely why civil society and other actors have been demanding an understanding of health care service provision which extends services to all in order to protect everyone while also ensuring continuous economic and social progress for people. Though the world is yet to count the full economic cost and losses as a result of COVID-19, the important lesson of the closeness between people’s health and the economy will never be forgotten,” the statement added.
It therefore called for rapid steps toward accomplishing the UHC goal. Though some progress have been recorded through collaboration between CSOs and Government resulting ultimately in improvements in the Ghanaian Healthcare system over the last few decades, Ghana’s health indicators reveal there are still gaps in Ghana’s health system.
“This means that successive governments must commit to ensuring the availability and accessibility of healthcare to a lot more people, especially those in underserved and hard to reach communities in different parts of the country”, it emphasized.