Research Fellow at Ghana Centre for Democratic Development and Pharmacist, Dr Kwame Sarpong Asiedu

A Fellow at the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Dr Kwame Asiedu Sarpong has called for an immediate system overhaul in the health sector of the country.

Reacting to the shocking details of a Corruption Watch documentary, “Pay or Die; The agony of pregnant women” the UK-based Pharmacist stated on Super Morning Show Wednesday, that rigorous education, revitalization, and other initiatives need to be introduced to halt the extortion of money from pregnant women.

The investigative piece uncovers that pregnant women pay big money before delivery.

Staff of renowned hospitals including the 37 Military Hospital, Mamprobi Hospital and Maamobi General Hospital are captured participating in the wrongful acts.

The issue is even murkier when holders of the National Insurance Health Card are told to make down payment before service is rendered.

Some of the pregnant women, who could not afford the cost, were left with no option than to go on borrowing spree or face death.

Dr Sarpong who was appalled by the situation, said it is a systemic problem, hence, must be addressed from every level of the health hierarchy.

He noted that it will be a great disservice to Ghanaian mothers if relevant stakeholders do not take immediate action to curb the illegal practice occurring in the health sector.

The anti-corruption advocate, therefore charged the Ghana Health Service (GHS), National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and Civil Society Organisations to sensitise the public on the free maternal health care policy.

“This is a systemic problem because when you listen to the NHIA and they tell you that this is not the case, you listen to GHS and they tell you, ‘that is not the case’, you even talk to Medical Suprintendents and they will tell you the same thing. But then here you see the evidence. The people engaging in these acts are health professionals and they should understand the letter of the NHIA Act so you see a clear disconnect.

“Also, you have the patient who doesn’t know what is covered under the NHIS and what is not. So you have a situation whereby the person who has to benefit from the right doesn’t know their right so there is a failure of health education,” he told host Kojo Yankson.

He further added that, “so when you put all of this together you come to the conclusion that there needs to be a systemic overhaul if these illicit charges are going to stop and that must include the NHIA down to the pregnant women.”

Dr Sarpong further called for the arrest of health personnel and facilities that charge for maternal health services.

He argued that prosecuting and punishing public servants engaged in the act will serve as a deterrent to others and also save many mothers.