The abolished system of cash first before treatment known in Ghana as Cash and Carry has been re-introduced in some hospitals across the country.
Sources close to Joy News revealed the facilities have resorted to the practice because of the dire financial strait they find themselves which is a consequence of National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) indebtedness.
Document sighted shows the hospitals are owed by the Authority in the regions of GHC2.5 million to GHC15 million which has compelled their medical suppliers to stop supply to them.
Related Article: Unpaid claims force polyclinics in Accra to begin ‘cash and carry’
Seven polyclinics in the Greater Accra Region namely Mamprobi, Adabraka, Kaneshie, Maamobi, Dansoman have fallen on their patients to meet their administrative needs because of lack of funds.
Investigations by Joy News’ Upper West Regional Correspondent, Rafiq Salaam showed NHIS owed facilities in the region to the tune of GHC30 million.
“The facilities are at their wits end and are on the verge of collapse,” the reporter said, adding things like folders are inaccessible.
Confirming the situation to Evans Mensah, host of Joy FM’s Top Story programme Wednesday, Medical superintendent of Upper West Regional Hospital, Barnabas Gandau said they are “trying to survive.”
He said the ordeal they have to bear daily to provide services to the hospital’s many patients are becoming unbearable.
“Today [Wednesday], I have to beg three suppliers to provide us with methylated spirit,” he said in a shameful tone.
According to him, they are unable to secure basic things such as protective gear, gloves, and medicines to do their work.
Drawing comparison with other facilities across the country, Dr Gandau said facilities in Upper West are “struggling to survive” because the NHIS owes them between nine to 11 months of service.
“Some landlords are threatening to evict staff from bungalows because of non-payment of salaries,” he said, adding “We are trying to survive.”
He said the problem was expected since there was a change in government which often put a delay on transactions.
He is however confident that the new Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu would fast-track payment to facilities owed in the country. “We are hopeful that we will be able to redeem our image in the public.”
Although the 2017 situation is worse as compared to previous onces, the NHIS said it would be getting better in the comings.
NHIS Communication Director, Selorm Adonou said there have been several meetings between the Health Minister and the Finance Minister to speed up the release of funds.
“We are almost there,” he said, adding some money have been secured and would be released to offset the debt.
The Cash and Carry system has been in practiced until 2003 when it was abolished under the erstwhile President John Kufuor’s government. Under the system, the health needs of patients are only attended to after initial payment.
It was the campaign promise of former President Kufuor prior to the 2000 elections to end the practice if elected and true to his words eliminated the system by ensuring the passage of the NHIS law in 2003.
The law allows the Authority to license, monitor and regulate the operation of health insurance schemes in the country. However, the re-introduction of the system points to the issue of systematic failure on the part of the Authority.