In a press release captioned “NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE AUTHORITY’S DIRECTIVE ON CREDENTIALING OF PRIVATE HEALTH CENTRES MANNED BY PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS: A THREAT TO THE ATTAINMENT OF UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE IN GHANA” dated 26th of January 2020, the Ghana Physician Assistants Association finds the directive and other acts of the NHIA discriminatory and a mere suppression of their practice as health care professionals providing services for the good people of this country.
The Ghana Physician Assistants Association and the entire Physician Assistant fraternity is taken aback by a directive dated 12th December, 2019 from the Board and Management of the National Health Insurance Authority through its Chief Executive Officer to all Active Credentialed Private Health Centres on withholding of Credentialing of Private Health Centres manned by Physician Assistants.
The Leadership of the Ghana Physician Assistants Association (GPAA) sees that above directive not only discriminatory to Physician Assistants nationwide, but also an eternal attempt to prevent Physician Assistants from going into private practice.
In addition, the above directive will affect masses of the population who seek health care at the peripheries of this nation as a result of lack of well-resourced public health facilities, and will go a long way to impact negatively on Ghanas strides to attaining Universal Health Coverage through National Health Insurance Scheme which is a strategy of making financial accessibility to health less costly to the poor majority.
Interestingly, His Excellency President Nana Akuffo Addo happens to be a Co- Chair of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Committee set up by the United Nations Assembly but his appointees who should be committed to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for All through ensuring Good Health and Well-Being (SDG Goal 3) of all citizens, are through their actions and inactions serving as bottlenecks to the attainment of this goal.
Ghana in 2003 under Ex-President Agyekum Kufuor introduced National Health Insurance Scheme in order to provide equitable access and financial coverage for Basic Health Care Services to Ghanaian citizens. This bold pro poor policy was a major stride in public financing of health, and is seen as the most equitable and sustainable way of achieving Universal Health Coverage.
We want the NHIA to clarify the following issues/questions for us:
Why is the National Health Insurance Authority under this current Board and Management bent on denying Ghanaians financial access to healthcare of their own choosing?
Majority of Public Health Centres across the country are being manned by Physician Assistants and these facilities have been credentialed using the licenses of Physician Assistants, so why cant the NHIA credential a Private Health Centre manned by same cadre?
Why single out only the Physician Assistant in this directive?
Why should workers of the Authority go about convincing Physician Assistants to get licenses of other health care practitioners in order for their Private Health Centres to be credentialed? What are their motives?
What were the issues leading to the above directive?
The Leadership of the Ghana Physician Assistants Association wants to reiterate using this platform that the National Health Insurance Authority has been unfair to Physician Assistants for far too long. Mention can be made of Levels of Care outlined by the Authority where the Physician Assistant was conveniently omitted from the B1 Level (Health Centre without a Doctor). Which cadre works at that level? We have petitioned the Ministry and the NHIA on several occasions but nothing has been done up to now.
In addition, the NHIA also in reviewing its Medicine List intentionally removed certain medicines like anti- hypertensives and anti- diabetics from the B1 Level without any justification as if the Physician Assistant is not capable of managing Hypertensive and Diabetes cases at the Health Centre Level. The Authority thought they were punishing us, but unfortunately it is the clients that are being denied those medicines thus making clients report at the so called big facilities with end organ damage.
All the above events are not coincidences. They are calculated machinations to obliterate our relevance in the Health Care fraternity. However, we want to point it out that Physician Assistantship as a profession has come to stay as the World Health Organization recognizes the relevance of these cadres and is making frantic efforts in maximizing their potentials for accelerated health outcomes, and the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for All.
In a Country where trained and highly skilled professionals are unemployed because of Governments inability to employ them into the public sector, the best any Government can do to help the unemployed is to encourage and help these professionals to venture into the private sector to contribute their quotas to national development rather than coming out with these directives.
We are by this press release calling on the National Health Insurance Authority through its Chief Executive Officer to withdraw such a circular as a matter of urgency within two (2) weeks while a broader stakeholder meeting is scheduled to address issues leading to such a directive. This has become necessary because when the Association wrote to the NHIA seeking audience on the above subject matter, the Authority scheduled a meeting only to inform us later that the meeting has been postponed indefinitely.
The Association is also calling on the President of the country and the Minister of Health to step in immediately to forestall any industrial action. The Private and Public Physician Assistants are together in this call.
We shall fight with our blood and strength the oppressors rule and machinations till we are totally liberated.
Leadership of the Associations waits patiently for your prompt response
Thank you all.
EMMANUEL YAW APPIAH PETER EYRAM KUENYEFU
PRESIDENT (0244 779518) GENERAL SECRETARY (0249883933)
DAVID KOJO DONKOH
NATIONAL PRO (0243683988)
THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, JUBILEE HOUSE, ACCRA
THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH, MINISTRY OF HEALTH, ACCRA
THE CEO, NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE AUTHORITY
THE REGISTRAR, HEFRA
THE REGISTRAR, MEDICAL AND DENTAL COUNCIL, GHANA
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS