Health

NHIS should cover dialysis expenses – Oppong Nkrumah

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has raised concerns about the high cost of treatment for renal patients in the country.

The Minister suggested that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) should absorb some of the cost incurred by renal patients during dialysis sessions.

During an interview on Eyewitness News, Nkrumah underscored the need for the government to cover some aspects of the treatment, which is draining the finances of kidney patients.

He therefore stressed the importance of proper financing of the NHIS Fund.

“The government is waiting on the management of Korle Bu to complete its internal work and come forward with what its position is. The conversation has been going on, and I personally suggested that whatever the amount comes to, it is a matter that the NHIS Fund should be able to pick up. To achieve that, we need to take a lot more seriously the financing of the NHIS Fund to take up incidents like this. The amount is not something an individual will be able to cater for considering the number of dialyses one has to go through in a month, without draining their finances extensively.”

The MP for Ofoase-Ayiribi bemoaned the lack of remittance into the NHIS Fund since its introduction by former President John Agyekum Kufuor.

He further suggested that the monies collected on behalf of the Fund be automated to curb any unforeseen loopholes.

“Today, the non-Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributor is paying GHC28 as an annual premium, and the SSNIT contributor is paying GHC8, as an annual premium, this is woefully inadequate. The NHIS levy that is collected on behalf of the NHIS Fund is not automatically remitted to the NHIS Fund. I believe that is something we also have a look at. We have never remitted 100% to the Fund since its introduction by former President Kufuor. I don’t think it’s honestly proper for us to collect monies in the name of the Fund and not remit those monies to the Fund. And it’s something both the National Democratic Congress and New Patriotic Party have been doing since the days of former President Kufuor. We need to bring some automaticity to the amount of monies we collect on behalf of the Fund. If you do it this way, we can have money from the Fund that can take care of these costs,” he opined.

A total of 14 outpatients of the renal unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital have died after the unit was closed to them in May 2023, the Renal Patients Association has revealed.

A spokesperson for the Association, Michael Asante, told journalists at a press conference in Accra on Monday that the deaths were caused by the patients’ inability to access dialysis treatment at private dialysis centres, which is more expensive than the treatment offered at the hospital.

Kidney failure patients who visit the Renal Unit of the facility for dialysis sessions were being charged a new fee of GH¢765 from an initial fee of GH¢385.

The ministry summoned the management of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to explain why the new fee was introduced without going through due process.

The hospital has come under intense criticism after reports of the review of its dialysis charges.

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