The Western Region Minister designate has doubted the viability of the hugely challenged National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Dr Kwaku Afriyie said the actuarial plan which formed the foundation for the implementation of the scheme has been “violated.”
The medical doctor, with expertise in farming was answering questions when he took his turn before the Appointment Committee of Parliament, Tuesday, with the hope that he will be approved as Western Region Minister.
With the wealth of experience in the health sector, and a key player in the institution of the National Health Insurance Scheme in 2003, members of the appointments committee did not fail in asking the nominee his thoughts on the struggling National Health Insurance Scheme.
The nominee said there has to be an overhaul of the policy and fine tune it to meet modern day challenges in the health sector.
NHIS which began with a membership of 1.3 million people in 2005, now has a total of 11.3 million active members across the country (2015), which represents 42% of Ghana’s current population. Membership of the Scheme is open to all Ghanaians and legally resident persons in Ghana.
However the scheme has suffered a major lack of funding with many service providers complaining about debts owed them by the insurance authority.
The New Patriotic Party made the collapsed NHIS a campaign issue but the head of the Scheme Nathaniel Otoo dismissed assertions the Scheme had collapsed except to admit it was challenged.
When he appeared before the Committee, the Western Regional Minister designate gave a rather gloomy picture about the NHIS.
Dr Kweku Afriyie stated that the scheme as it is has been compromised in many ways, and cited the pre existing conditions, mass immunization policy embedded in the program as some key elements that need to be looked at.
He said as a key player in the policy, having been part of the policy initiators, and a service provider, the country needs a national dialogue on the NHIS supported by actuarial figures in order to get it back on its feet.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, who is also a member of the committee wanted to find out from the nominee if the NPP can fulfill its promise of making cancer treatment free under the NHIS.
Dr Afriyie explained there are certain cancers which can be cured; others can be managed and the pledge for a free cancer treatment is doable.
On the core reason why he appeared before the committee, the medical doctor said the Western Region, which he will head if approved, is a “blessed and cursed region.”
He said the region is blessed with many natural resources controlling more than half of Ghana’s foreign exchange earnings yet the area is one of the poorest, battling may environmental challenges including the residual activities of galamsey.
He said he will see to the championing of the interest of people in the Western Region.