The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) covers the bills for breast cancer consultation and treatment, Dr Daniel Mingle of the 37 Military Hospital has shared.
He spoke exclusively to Class News' Prince Benjamin on the sidelines of the ‘Pink October: Breast Cancer Educational Talk’ organised by the Duala Medical Centre at the Garrison Methodist-Presbyterian Church, Burma Camp, Accra.
Dr Mingle first said, when it comes to breast cancer disease, "There are barriers that prevent people from seeking help."
Having identified four of these: information access, unawareness, geographical access, and financial barriers, he focused on how geographical access and financial barriers interact.
"Getting money to move from wherever they [patients] are diagnosed to the tertiary centre to see the specialist to be treated becomes a problem," he said.
He was concerned about patients who "are in a rural area," and "get referred to a tertiary centre which is some kilometres away."
The medical doctor segued from these challenges into "the good news [which] is, we in the Ghana Armed Forces have medical installations all across the countries, in all our garrisons, and there, what we've done as a public health unit is to train our staff in there so they [offer] breast cancer screening services."
"We do our screening services all year round," he was happy to share, before noting: "It is just that in the month of October, there is a surge, and we like the surge because once it comes, it shows that whatever awareness we are creating, people have taken it up, and that's why they are presenting themselves."
According to Dr Mingle, his team has "a very good relationship with the surgeons as well, and they pick up cases to first confirm whether the lump that had been found by us is really breast cancer or not."
He was categorical speaking on the National Health Insurance Scheme's graces in alleviating the financial burden on breast cancer patients.
"So with the financial access barrier, I think the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has done a bit of work on that: Once you are referred to a specialist, that consultation with the specialist is free. So that bit [of cost] has been taken off," Dr Mingle shared.
"Once you get diagnosed, the treatment, the chemotherapy part of the treatment, is also free," he revealed.
"There are other treatments which we call biologics. These are monoclonal antibodies, like Herceptin, it's also free under the NHIS," he concluded on the successes of the NHIS and made a suggestion.
"What is left, I think, is the radiotherapy part," he said and added: "but most of the cases, or let me say, some of the cases, may not need radiotherapy but I think the NHIS is also working on reimbursing radiotherapy treatment."
"So with all this, it makes the treatment or management of breast cancer diseases a bit more manageable for the population now," the public health physician specialist in charge of the noncommunicable disease programme for the Ghana Armed Forces mentioned.