President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reiterated government’s commitment to injecting efficiency in the operations of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by settling all outstanding claims of service providers.
The NHIS, he noted, was core to the healthcare delivery system in the country and, as such, behoved on the Government to make it work effectively to serve its purpose.
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance when he delivered a speech at the 50th Congregation and Fifth Oath Swearing and Induction Ceremony of the School of Medical Sciences (SMS) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
A total of 54 students, made up of 31 males and 23 females, who successfully completed a six year programme of study leading to the award of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB), were inducted and sworn in as professionals.
The President said the Government, by dint of prudent management within the short space of seven months, had cleared GhC560 million of the GHc1.2 billion debt it inherited.
“I can confidently say that we will settle all arrears within the next 12 months. This year, we are up to date on the payment of claims to health care providers. It is essential that the business of health care providers do not collapse,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the exodus of trained medical doctors and other health personnel to foreign countries after Ghana had continually trained them adding that more efforts were needed to keep them as the country tried to bridge the shortage gap.
He expressed the commitment of the Government to putting in place pragmatic measures to reduce the attrition rate of health professionals.
He described the current doctor-patient ratio of 1:8,000 as a worrying phenomenon and woefully inadequate to ensure effective healthcare delivery in the country.
The President acknowledged that the situation was even worse in rural and deprived communities and gave the assurance that the Government would put in place the right conditions for doctors to find rural communities more attractive to bring up their young families.
He said many of the answers to the problems that bedevilled the health sector lay in improving the physical infrastructure adding that government would strive to complete ongoing infrastructural projects around the country.
As the Government tried to improve upon infrastructure, it was equally important to expand health promotion programmes, scale up disease prevention and environmental cleanliness campaigns to prevent the perennial outbreak of avoidable diseases, he said.
President Akufo-Addo urged the newly qualified doctors to accept postings to rural communities to contribute to enhancing healthcare delivery in those areas.
He advised the new doctors to be guided by their professional oath, dedicate themselves to their core mandate of saving lives and emulate the vision and mission of the exploits of early practitioners.
Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, the Vice Chancellor of UCC, enumerated several infrastructural challenges that affected teaching and learning and the capacity of the school to admit more students, which include inadequate physical infrastructure.
He appealed to the Government and all stakeholders for support for the early completion of facilities to enhance the capacity of the school to increase enrollment.
The Vice Chancellor said UCCSMS had graduated 243 quality medical doctors since its establishment in 2006, who were practicing in the various health facilities across the country.