Dr Boakye Agyeman, the Deputy Ashanti Regional Director of Health Services, has called for a more viable system of healthcare financing in the country.

He said since there could not be an absolute free healthcare delivery, there was the need for all to dialogue and come out with a workable financing scheme that would be sustainable.

Dr Agyeman was speaking at a regional high level forum on universal access to healthcare in Kumasi.

It was organized by the Ghana NGO Coalition in Health to highlight healthcare challenges the poor faced.

The Deputy Regional Director, spoke of the growing healthcare expenditure, the result of population growth, technology and innovation in healthcare services, the increasing number of health professionals and public expectation.

What was needed therefore was a combination of various financing schemes, which were culturally appropriate and economically sustainable.

He said out-of-pocket payment system was not the way to go and urged civil society organizations to spearhead the discussions to find an acceptable system.

Ms Victoria Yeleduor, acting Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Ashanti Regional National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), said financial affordability to healthcare was the core function of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Currently over eight million people, representing about 34 per cent of the population, are active members of the NHIS and are eligible to access healthcare services.

She said out-patient utilization had increased from 600,000 people in 2005, to 16.9 million in 2010, with in-patients utilization climbing from 28,906, in 2005, to 973,524.00, in 2009.

Claims payment in Ashanti Region from January to June 2011, stood at GH?58,963,244.00. For the same period in 2012, the payment went down to GH?53,037,366.00, resulting in the saving of GH?5,925,272.00 under the capitation.

Ms Aba Opong, a healthcare advocate, gender and child right activist and a member of the Coalition, said general taxation was the most dependable, progressive and commonly used mechanism to fund the provision of universal healthcare.

She said tax reforms by way of the widening of the tax net, tax rate increases, and windfall taxes were properly implemented, Ghana could rake in more than $600 million additional revenue to finance government expenditure, including healthcare.

Ms Oppong called civil society organizations to embark on advocacy to get people pay their taxes to enable government generate more revenue.

Source: GNA

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