John Dramani Mahama, Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has explained his promise to offer Ghanaians free primary healthcare should he win the 2020 general elections.
The former President says the next NDC government will implement free primary health care for all Ghanaians under a special arrangement to be managed by the National Health Insurance Authority. This according to him, is to increase financial access to healthcare services in the country.
John Mahama who was speaking in Wa at a durbar of Chiefs as part of his 4-day tour of the Upper West Region was of the view that the new initiative will complement the existing National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to ensure that citizens access free primary healthcare even without NHIS cards. “It is the aim of all countries to attain what we call universal healthcare. Unfortunately, our National Health Insurance Scheme makes it difficult for us to obtain this objective because the payment of premiums at the lower rank of the health delivery system makes it difficult for everybody to be able to access quality healthcare. So we are breaking a new program to supplement the NHIS.”
He added: “Let me point out that this programme and plan we are bringing is going to be implemented and supervised by the NHIS But it is going to be a program for free primary healthcare so that at the level of the CHPS compound, polyclinics and health centres all Ghanaians will have access to free healthcare whether they possess a national health insurance card or not.”
Alex Segbefia, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Deputy Campaign Manager, has put a cost on his party’s Free Primary Health Care promise.
Giving more insight into the promise first revealed by the NDC flagbearer, Dr. Segbefia said it will cost $18 million. It is to cover persons who seek healthcare services at the district level and lower. “We have costed it. It is going to cost us $18 million… in that policy, we are saying that anybody who goes to a district hospital and below [will get] free health care.”
Beyond the cost, the NDC expects this policy to ease pressure on major hospitals, allowing them to focus on more critical healthcare areas.
“The plan is to leave regional hospitals to deal with the more serious cases which they are meant for,” Dr. Segbefia noted.
“It is clogging up our regional and tertiary institutions for things that can be done elsewhere. We have to move the people to areas where they can be dealt with; from the CHPS compounds to the health centres to the polyclinics, to the district hospitals.”
The former Health Minister further downplayed any concerns about how the NDC will be able to finance promise citing recent interventions in the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have just taken $100 million under COVID. We have taken another $1 billion as a loan. You mean as a country, we can’t find an extra $18 million to give free healthcare from district hospitals and below?”