Dr Justice Yankson

Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr. Justice Yankson has said that access to health care services in Ghana is not totally free.

Dr. Yankson was one of the discussants on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Thursday, to analyse details of a documentary produced by Corruption Watch in partnership with The Multimedia Group, titled, “Pay or Die!: The agony of pregnant women in hospitals”.

The 30-minute documentary reveals that pregnant women are made to pay for services that are supposed to be free under the Free Maternal Healthcare Policy.’

Dr Justice Yankson, who is a practicing medical officer, said that “If something is free, technically, speaking I shouldn’t pay for anything. But sometimes there are caveats and these caveats or exclusions are never published for us to know.”

According to him, the fact that patients have to pay premiums to access the NHIS card, before enjoying healthcare services, means it is not a free policy.

“Once I pay for my insurance policy through the premium, when I access care, I don’t think somebody should tell me the person is giving me free service.”

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was established by the government of Former President John Agyekum Kufuor in 2003, to provide equitable access and financial coverage for basic health care services to all Ghanaians. 

“If we look at the point at which President Kufuor started this free maternal health policy, I remember we had some grants from the UK government, some £5million to £10 million or so. So we had a dedicated source of funding that made sure that we paid for these services as and when our sisters, our mothers and our wives go to the health facility to access maternal health services,” Dr Yankson said.

He said with the already existing challenges of the National Health Insurance Scheme, adding free maternal care to it is not a great idea.

As has been the norm, holders of the NHIS card renew their membership every year at a rate of GH₵28 by using the USSD code *929#

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