BUIPE, CENTRAL GONJA –THE lack of an office accommodation has compelled the manager of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the Central Gonja District in the Northern Region, Braimah Abdul-Razak, to use as office the washroom of a nurses’ quarters allocated to the Scheme, Savannahnews has gathered.
“The Manager’s office is the toilet and bathroom...... the kitchen is Accounts office and the Management and Information Systems occupies the bedroom with 15 computers. The hall of the quarters serves as general office for the rest of the staff including the PRO and clerks and the veranda is where our clients wait when they come to register or renew their cards”, Alhassan Abdulai Rufai Accountant of the Scheme revealed at a meeting in Buipe, the district capital.
But the meeting saw participants and some concerned citizens who have been advocating for quality and efficient healthcare delivery in the area, expressed serious disquiet and distaste over the current condition of the NHIS office. They urged the Central Gonja District Assembly to consider the plight of the Scheme as its top priority.
Mr. Alhassan, who was speaking at a meeting of the Katchito Community Development Centre (KCODEC) which brought together officials from the Department of Social Welfare, District Health Directorate, GYEEDA, Chiefs and the media, confessed that the situation has always been like that since the Scheme was created in 2008.
The meeting was part of the implementation of a two-year STAR-Ghana funded project dubbed “Improving quality of access and patronage of vulnerable rural population in NHIS and health delivery system in the western corridor of Northern Region.”
The project which began in February 2013 and ends in November 2014 aims at providing information and knowledge on existing health sector policies and programmes, with a particular focus on the NHIS (its goals/objectives, functions, participation of community members and informal sector, registration processes, challenges and opportunities).
It is also to reactivate or establish and strengthen Community Health Committees to effectively perform their roles and functions, and among other tasks, to engage actively in promoting the registration of community members with the NHIS.
|Sylvester Mensah, C.E.O, NHIA|
It also seeks to increase community participation in the annual Expanded Immunization Programmes of the Ghana Health Service in four districts namely; West/North Gonja, Central Gonja, Bole and Sawla-Tuna-Kalba. The four districts are represented by four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which belong to a coalition called the Coalition for the Development of Western Corridor of Northern Region (NORTHCODE).
The four NGOs include the Centre for Women Opportunities (CENWOPP) in Damongo, KCODEC in Buipe, Tuna Women Development Programme (TUWODEP) in Tuna and Partners in Participatory Development (PAPADEV) in Bole and KCODEC in Buipe.
According to the Programmes Manager of KCODEC, Mumuni Joseph Shaibu, the project is being implemented in 40 communities in all four districts simultaneously by CENWOPP, TUWODEP, PAPADEV and KCODEC in partnership with their NHIS and District Health Management Teams.
With a population of about 95,000 people, the Central Gonja District NHIS between January and September 2014 registered about 6,727 new clients against 9,789 registered during the same period in 2013. Also, since the beginning of 2014, 8,872 people renewed their cards while the number of active clients now stands at 15,599 against 22,450 active clients in 2013.
Mr. Alhassan also noted that, the Scheme currently owes service providers five months arrears (March-July), adding that, apart from lack of a suitable office accommodation of its own, the only four-wheel pickup vehicle of the Scheme which is worn-out spends GH¢200.00 every month at the mechanic shop.
Although the project is almost ended, most of the CHPS compounds in beneficiary communities including Boachipe, Lito, Zanzugu Yipala, Mankpan, Fufulso Junction, Chama, Tulwe, Kusawgu, Mpaha and Yapei still lack key resources such as motorbikes, midwives and community health nurses for efficient and effective healthcare delivery and outreach services.
|Mumuni J. Shaibu|
Participants at the meeting called on community members and the District Assembly to step up their efforts to provide more Community-Based Health and Planning Services (CHPS) compounds as well as lobby the Regional Health Administration for more midwives and community health nurses.
They also appealed to the Regional Health Administration, District Assembly and other stakeholders to provide strong motorbikes for outreach services since most of the district’s 236 communities are almost inaccessible due to unmotorable roads.
Moreover, participants appealed to government to provide the Scheme with a befitting office accommodation, motorbikes and a new vehicle for outreach programmes and more importantly, pay service providers timely in order to repose confidence in the Scheme as well as clients.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mumuni noted that, the project has trained 50 community health volunteers in 10 CHPS compounds on their roles and responsibilities on health service delivery and NHIS in the district. “The number of CHPS compounds has increased from 12 in 2012 to 14 in 2014”, he stated.
“Communities and traditional authorities have shown ownership and management of CHPS compounds. For example, in Mankpan, the chief donated two packets of roofing sheets towards the construction of a shed where clients who visit the CHPS compound will sit. In Lito, the Assembly person and community members supported the renovation of their CHPS compound to house the nurse-in-charge whiles awaiting the construction of a permanent one from the District Assembly and the Ghana Health Service.
“The project also created a platform for volunteers to have a voice, share and learn with stakeholders such as the Ghana Health Service, NHIS and the District Assembly” he said, adding that “There has been significant increase of people seeking healthcare at NHIS accredited facilities citing pregnant women, children under 18 and the aged due to special registration of these groups”.