Friday, 04 December

Free Primary Healthcare to cost GHS1.4bn yearly – Mahama

Former President John Mahama

Former President John Mahama has said his next government, should he win the 7 December 2020 polls, will implement a free primary healthcare policy, which will cost GHS1.4 billion a year.

Mr Mahama, while addressing party supporters at Agogo in the Ashanti Region on Friday, 20 November 2020, said the funding will come from Ghana’s oil revenue, which is also being used to fund President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Free Senior High School programme.

The presidential candidate of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), promised that he will implement the Free Primary Healthcare policy within a year after assuming office.

Per the NDC’s 2020 manifesto, the Free Primary Healthcare policy will be the single-largest social intervention in the Fourth Republic.

It will deliver preventive health, health promotion interventions and curative care, and also seek to provide quality healthcare for all Ghanaians at no cost to the individual.

It is meant to be available in district hospitals, polyclinics, health centres and Community Health Planning Services (CHPS) compounds for all Ghanaians regardless of their political affiliation, religion or tribe.

The manifesto explained that Ghanaians will not need a National Health Insurance (NHIS) card to benefit from Free Primary Healthcare policy.

The plan, according to the manifesto, “will minimise overall healthcare cost and increase quality-adjusted healthy years and life expectancy”.

“The policy will also ensure adequate skill mix to guarantee accelerated economic growth; and decrease the pressure on secondary, tertiary and quaternary health care facilities, including addressing the dreaded No-bed syndrome.

Additionally, it will tackle health-seeking behaviours that are skewed more toward the curative rather than the preventive.

It will also “be a drastic reduction in the over two-and-a-half-hour-long waiting time, which overwhelms health workers, wastes the time of patients and their families”.

Furthermore, it will enable routine tests and reviews for chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes as well as facilitate the remote checking of blood pressure, pulse rate, height, weight, temperature, oxygen saturation etc., at accredited local pharmacies or drug stores, “as the case may be, at a fee to be paid by the government”.

The Free Primary Healthcare policy is also designed to connect patients with medical laboratories – both public and private – that can perform other invasive tests by using their mobile laboratory technicians.

“With this enhanced health-seeking behaviour, diseases will be picked up early by health professionals and managed. This early detection of diseases due to Free Primary healthcare will reduce medical complications, which usually require in-patient care”, the manifesto explained.

The initiative is also designed to create jobs such that additional health human resource such as physician assistants, registered nurses, midwives, community health nurses, pharmacists, doctors and allied health workers and other health entrepreneurs in the private sector, will be enlisted to support their facilities to participate in the delivery of free primary healthcare to Ghanaians.

The manifesto noted that the Free Primary Healthcare plan will make the NHIS better because it will pay for primary care, preventive and promotive health.