Indigents from six districts registered with NHIS

BY: Salomey Appiah
Mr Nathaniel Otoo

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) have registered 83,300 indigents from six districts with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) within three months, since the programme began in November, last year.

The exercise, under the African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) programme, is intended to improve the registration of the poor and vulnerable group onto the NHIS and enhance access to health care.

The 10 beneficiary districts are Adaklu-Anyigbe, Ho, Ashaiman, Ledzekuku Krowor, Fanteakwa, East Akim, Ejisu Juaben, Afigya Kwabre, Bolgatanga and Kassena Nankana.

Those who have benefited, so far, are from six districts in the Greater Accra, Eastern and Upper East regions, including the aged, pregnant women and other poor and vulnerable persons.

This came to light at the opening of a two-day stakeholders conference to review the AHME programme in Accra on Monday.

The AHME programme, supported by three development partners, Pharmacies Group, IFC of the World Bank and Marie Stopes Ghana, is being piloted in 10 districts in five regions. 

The exercise, which was launched in November 2015, seeks to improve targeting and indigent identification and registration

Long-term NHIS cards

The Chief Executive Officer of the NHIA, Mr Nathaniel Otoo, in his address, said the NHIS Act required that the scheme identified and enrolled the poor on the scheme to enable them to have access to quality health care. 

The initiative, which, he said, had so far received impressive response from the grass roots, was yet to identify and provide free registration for the poor in the remaining four districts in the Volta and Ashanti regions.

Mr Otoo also revealed that NHIS card bearers were to benefit from multiple year subscription cards to save cost and ensure convenience.

The new registration system, which would be announced soon, would eliminate the annual renewal of the NHIS cards which was stressful.

How programme works

Explaining how the programme worked the AHME Project Operation Team Chair, Mr Collins Akuamoah, explained that the programme identified the poor using a test tool known as the Proxy Means Test (PMT).

“The tool has made it possible for individuals to be identified through the use of questionnaires on a tablet and, thus, removed the old subjective way of identifying individuals for exemptions during the registration with the scheme”,  he explained.

He said the electronic system was to minimise the element of human challenge and discretion in identifying who was classified a poor person, and, therefore, eligible for free NHIS registration and enlistment into other government social protection programmes.

He further explained that under this system, enumerators were dispatched to the communities in particular districts to assess the poverty levels of households. 

So far, he said, the programme had enumerated 57,290 households while it had made it possible for 12,094 individuals to pay and register onto the scheme.

Ahead of target 

The Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Della Sowah, in her address, thanked the partners who supported the programme, saying that the initiative was timely in providing quality health care for the poor and vulnerable.

She urged participants in the conference to come up with a joint strategy to correct some challenges in the programme, adding that a common targeting mechanism approach be adopted by the stakeholders to select the beneficiaries.

A Lead Partner for the AHME programme, Dr Anthony Seddoh, said they were ahead of their target of registering more than 100,000 poor people by August this year.