A section of the demonstrators

THE PRINCIPAL streets of the Kumasi metropolis in the Ashanti region became busy on Friday morning when members of the Asante Development Union (ADU) staged a massive demonstration against the capitation policy being implemented by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

Assisted by the Asante Students’ Union (ASU), members of ADU, clad in red attires with armbands, marched through the principal streets of the Garden City to register their displeasure about the capitation policy.

The capitation policy, which is aimed at cutting down cost in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), is currently being piloted in the Ashanti region for future replication across the country.

In consonance with the new policy, subscribers of the NHIS are required to select three health facilities they would want to seek health delivery from.

Again, the policy stipulates that private health providers would be given GH¢1.75 to cater for patients per each attendance, whereas public facilities would be given GH¢1.43 for the same purpose.

Unenthused about the current trend in the health delivery system in the region, ADU released a press statement on January 12, 2012 and followed it up with a press conference stating reasons why the policy was not the best for the people in the region.

At the said press conference which was held at the conference hall of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, the group threatened to embark on a demonstration should the policy be maintained.

The threat of a street protest compelled officials of the NHIA, led by its director of research, O.B Acheampong, to organize a meeting with the leadership of the group with the view of seeking their support.

Unfortunately, the meeting ended in a deadlock, with the leadership of the pressure group sticking to their grounds and reiterating their demand that the policy be withdrawn or they would go ahead with their intended demonstration.

True to their word, then group staged a massive demonstration on Friday morning, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the policy.

Wielding placards, some of which red “Why capitation in the Ashanti region”, “Capitation is killing us slowly”, “Atta don’t kill the people of Ashanti region with capitation” and “Sylvester must go”, the group drew the people’s attention to the new policy.

The demonstration, which commenced at the labour roundabout in the Subin constituency, ended at the Gee roundabout in the Bantama constituency, where the leadership of the demonstration presented a petition to the regional manager of the NHIS.

Though the demonstration began with a small number of people, the size of the crowd grew thicker as the demonstrators, who sang and danced to scintillating ‘soloko’ tunes, marched through the principal streets.

Presenting the petition, the coordinator of the group, Edmund Owusu Peprah, reiterated the group’s persistent calls that the policy be withdrawn due to the accompanying crisis.

He explained that the policy was not serving the supreme interest of the people because it had brought about co-payment and the infamous ‘cash and carry’ system in the health delivery system.

According to him, because health providers were given a meagre amount for the treatment of patients, subscribers were compelled to either foot part of their bills or pay the bills in its entirety.

Mr. Peprah noted that there was confusion in the system due to the inadequate orientation about the policy, indicating that the selection of the Ashanti region for the pilot was inappropriate.

He emphasized that the region was not ideal for such a complex and technical policy due to its large size, which implied that the failure of the policy would affect the lives of many.

Revealing that the group would continue to stage series of demonstrations till the policy was withdrawn, the coordinator charged the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA to resign with immediate effect.

He contended that Mr Mensah’s resignation was imperative because the CEO had shown that he was incompetent for such a sensitive office.

Mr Peprah tasked President Mills to sack Mr Mensah should he fail to resign honourably because his continuous stay in office had the potential to collapse the scheme.

From Morgan Owusu, Kumasi

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