The General Secretary of the Private Health Providers Association of Ghana, Frank Toblu, has lamented about the unfavorable process Private Health Providers go through to procure drugs for their facilities.
According to Mr. Toblu, he is displeased with the pricing regime for medicines and services under the National Health Insurance Scheme. He explained that the Private Health Providers do not have access to the regional medical stores unlike the government facilities.
According to the General Secretary, unlike government medical facilities that procure directly from the regional medical stores even without payment, Private Health Care Providers buy from the open market or from the regional stores with conditions attached.
“They can go to the regional medical stores, get their drugs and then sell it and pay thereafter. In our case, when we go there, we have to pay ready cash before we can take it out. The process doesn’t make business sense as we procure these drugs at higher prices and end up retailing at lower prices.”Frank Toblu
Mr. Toblu therefore backed the calls for the decentralization of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). He stated that there have been challenges with payment of capitation to private health facilities for their services to the scheme by the government due to the centralized system.
“We buy our medicines at market price but we are obliged to sell them at the set price by the government. Under normal circumstance, government is to facilitate the procurement of drugs for us but they don’t.”Frank Toblu
Association to partially withdraw services
The Private Health Facilities Association of Ghana indicated a partial withdrawal of their services from the NHIS. To this end, Mr. Toblu revealed that the Association will stop selling generic drugs which are on the NHIS drugs list.
“In order for us to be in business, instead of stocking the generic medicines which are on the NHIS list, we will rather stock the branded ones and sell them at the market price to the patients. Nothing prohibits us from [doing] that. Government has become insensitive to the plight of Private Health Care Facilities.”Frank Toblu
The General Secretary however, appealed to government to post some of the trained medical officers to their facilities. He added that even if the facilities will have to pay part of their salaries, they are “ready to meet government half way.”
“Most of [the] hospitals will have to reduce our operations to clinics because, the quality and quantity of the health workers needed to run our facilities are not available since we are losing them to the search for greener pastures.”Frank Toblu
Touching on the E-levy and its impact on their services, Frank Toblu insinuated that the Association’s operations will be adversely affected by the E-Levy since they also patronize the mobile money services. He therefore suggested to government to make amendments to the policy.
“We pay for goods and services through mobile money as hospitals and hence our operations will be impacted just like any Ghanaian or business. You know some of our patients pay with mobile money and the E-Levy is going to make it more expensive for them.”Frank Toblu
The General Secretary added that history should be the guiding principle when introducing policies such as the e-Levy. Frank-Torblu also questioned why the town hall meetings leading to the passage of the e-Levy Bill were done in only six regions out of the sixteen regions in Ghana.
Frank-Torblu stated that although their suggestion to government has come late since the E-Levy Bill has been passed and signed already, he’s hopeful something can be done about it.
“Nonetheless government can still have a way to see to the amendment of the E-Levy law though it has been assented to by the President. It looks as if the E-Levy is going to solve all our problems in Ghana, but I don’t think E-Levy is a panacea to our development.”Frank Toblu