The Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health has underscored the need for government to legislate a policy on free universal health care in Ghana.
Speaking at a campaign forum held in Bolgatanga at the weekend, the Regional Vice Chairman of the Coalition, Mr Alagskomah Asakeya Noble, stressed that there should be free healthcare for all citizens of Ghana.
"The current system, even though good, is not the best because it is discriminatory and benefits the rich which defeats the purpose of the NHIS”, he stressed.
He indicated that a bulk of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which is 70%, came from taxes that every citizen contributed to, directly or indirectly. Yet those who were unable to pay and register with the scheme were prevented from access to health care.
He said the remaining 30% revenue mobilized by the NHIS from the people, could not even run the administration of the NHIS and so the scheme depended on the 70% mobilized from tax to support its administration.
"It is estimated that nationally, about 60% of the population had access to health facilities.
Among the rural population however, this figure is much lower, with only 37% living within one hour travel time (by any available means) from a health facility.
"Currently about 70% of funds for the NHIS come from tax (VAT levy), while premiums contribute about five per cent. Those excluded from the NHIS still pay user fees in the cash and carry system, and millions of citizens who cannot afford are still excluded from the health care they need”, he stated.
Mr Asakeya indicated that though the WHO recommended a proportion of total health care expenditure of about 15% to 20% from government, but that of Ghana was contributing less than that.
He noted that this was denying a lot of people from accessing health care, especially those in deprived areas.
He said the Coalition was of the view that if Government increased the Value Added Tax, increased property tax, corporate tax, increased mining tax and took off free zone tax including the allocation from the oil sector, it would be able to mobilize adequate funds to cater for the healthcare needs of all Ghanaians.