July 20, 2024
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Including dialysis on NHIS will collapse it – Mubarak Muntaka

A ranking member of Parliament’s Health Committee, Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, has disagreed with the sustainability plan of the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, to include dialysis in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Mr Agyemang-Manu, while addressing Parliament on Thursday, November 9 to brief the House on what led to the closure of the Renal Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, suggested three options to forestall the recurrence of the closure of the Renal Unit.

According to him, the Health Ministry in collaboration with Korle-Bu and the Ministry of Finance is considering the following:

  1. The possible inclusion of dialysis on the National Health Insurance benefit package.
  2. The granting of subsidies based on proposals received from Korle Bu.
  3. Possible review of tariffs to ensure the sustainability of the services.

However, in an interview on Joy FM’s Top Story, the Asawase MP stated that the Minister’s plan, particularly of including renal services on the NHIS, is not sustainable, and that capping the NHIS funds is inhumane. 

“If you put cases like kidney, liver-related diseases unto the National Health Insurance Fund, you are simply going to collapse it. So we need to holistically look at it,” he said.   

He added that, while the kidney dialysis issue is critical and solutions must be found, he believes it is not ideal to include it on the NHIS because it is already overburdened.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Bernard Okoe Boye has suggested measures the government can adopt to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for renal patients.

According to him, dialysis was too huge a cost for individuals battling kidney conditions to bear alone since most of them might be unable to pay for these services.

Speaking to JoyNews he said, “As a country, I can tell you boldly, if we are committed we can pay totally for kidney care.”

Elaborating on the ways the government can reduce the burden on kidney patients, he said; “First of all, politically we have been going back and forth on funding to NHIS. Kenya even pays for kidney transplants. The reason is very simple, 90% to 95% of the funds are directly with them.”

“Secondly, we can put some levy referred to as syntax on some one or two products which are normally not consumed by the ordinary person but by people in a particular class and the inflows on that can go into a fund not necessarily with National Health Insurance.

“It can be the chronic disease fund or the peripheral disease fund which would go to the departments that take care of kidney care and other conditions like cardio diseases so that instead of the GHȼ700 cedis that is been looked at, you can retain GHȼ200 because GHȼ500 cedis has been paid for by this fund.

“Thirdly, we as a country can come together to take away all the taxes on any item that goes into kidney care. We can look at two or three consumables that affect the pricing and the state can procure them directly.”

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