A Research Fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Dr Kwame Sarpong Asiedu, has raised questions regarding the National Health Insurance Scheme's budget for its six-month free dialysis treatment initiative.

The scheme's plan entails providing free dialysis treatment for patients below 18 years and above 60 years, while offering subsidies for individuals aged 19 to 59.

The allocated budget amounts to 4.4 million cedis, with 2 million cedis approved by parliament and an additional 2.4 million from the the National Health Insurance Authority's (NHIA) internally generated funds.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show on June 4, Dr Asiedu said the scheme needs at least 7 million cedis to effectively implement the service for the six months, based on calculations derived from patient numbers and treatment sessions.

“You realised that they have given a table which gives you the number of patients who are under 18 and over 60 in each facility. If you put it together, that comes to 84 patients. But you know that Korle Bu has a different funding scheme because there is a philanthropist who is paying for them. If you take Korle Bu, it comes to 73. You are doing 8 sessions for 73 patients every month.”

“If you multiply 8 by 73, you get 584, so 584 sessions a month based on their documents for the 73 patients. And then you are doing it for 6 months which is 26 weeks, so if you multiply that by 26 weeks that gives you 15,184 sessions for these people over six months.”

According to Dr Asiedu's analysis, the total required budget should be 7.45 million cedis, leaving a shortfall of approximately 5.5 million cedis.

“They have two million so they are shot of about 5.5 million and they know it. The question is, are they being deliberate? The answer is no. They have the money. They are willing to fund it. So the question should not go to them. They have demonstrated good faith. The question should go to the people who provided the funding and approved two million. Are they going to cough out the remaining 5.5 million?” he quizzed.

The Director of Corporate Affairs at the National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA), Oswald Mensah, clarified that the NHIS would cover 50% of the cost for two dialysis sessions for patients receiving treatment at Korle Bu, amounting to one million cedis.

He stated that a total of 531 patients are currently receiving dialysis treatment across the country.

 “These are those that have presented themselves for treatment. So this is the number we are working with. The children or vulnerable category, we classified them into about 84 in number and then those receiving treatment outside of Korle is 147, and those seeking treatment in Korle Bu is about 300, so when you add all together it's about 531 patients at this point in time.”

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Juaboso Constituency and Ranking Member on the Health Committee of Parliament, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, has charged government to come out with a clear-cut plan on how it will continue the payment for dialysis treatment for patients.

"We use money on unnecessary things. We dig a whole hole and spend money on it in the name of cathedral, and yet we cannot take care of people suffering from renal challenges. What is it that is above the country? So they are simply not ready and this comprehensive plan must come from the government because the health of the people is the wealth of the country, and the health of the people must always be prioritised,"he stressed.

Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin confirmed that the Health Committee of Parliament is addressing the matter and expressed confidence in their ability to resolve it.

“I think the Health Committee is working on it. There was a referral to them. So I am sure when we resume, they will bring their report. Hon. Akandoh is the Ranking, and Hon. Dr Ayew Afriyie is the chair. They get along. These two leaders, they get along on matters that get to them. So I am sure they will bring their report and we will deal with it.”

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