President Akufo-Addo has directed the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to develop a comprehensive plan on how the state can best fund kidney treatment to alleviate the plight of patients.
This was revealed by Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah after a group of medical doctors under the umbrella body of the Private Health Facilities Associations petitioned the government on the dialysis crisis that has hit the country in recent times.
“When the matter came up the President instructed the Health Authorities to examine it and come to the table with various recommendations on how to deal with it and I do know those recommendations are due in the next couple of weeks. By both I mean the National Health Insurance Authority and the Ministry of Health” the minister noted.
The Vice President of the Association, Dr Samuel Boakye Donkor, also called on the government to consider a tax waiver on all medical equipment, including dialysis machines, brought into the country to help treat patients.
“The number of kidney cases is alarming, it keeps increasing daily. We want to get more machines so we can treat our Ghanaian people but it is really expensive to get the machine into our country. When they get to the port the amount of money you have to pay, the duties you have to pay, so we are pleading with the government if tax waiver will be granted so we can bring more”.
It will be recalled that on September 27, it was alleged that the Renal Dialysis Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital had increased the cost of dialysis from GH₵380.00 to GH₵765.42, representing 101%.
The Public Relations Officer(PRO) of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Mustapha Salifu in an interview on September 27 noted that the hike in price is due to the removal of tax exemption and high import duties on kidney medicines.
However, the management of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in a statement dated September 27, clarified that the new price review[GH₵380.00 to GH₵765.42] is only a proposal that has been presented by the Renal Dialysis Unit and is yet to receive consideration and approval by the Management of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
Thus, “any proposed fee will be forwarded to Parliament through the Ministry of Health for approval. It is only after the due parliamentary approval that any fees will be implemented”.
Meanwhile, many kidney patients and non-kidney patients reacting to the review of the dialysis prices said it would be catastrophic for kidney patients if there is any review for the price of dialysis to go up.
Currently, the renal unit at Korle-Bu has been closed to outpatients since May. The unit was reportedly closed due to a shortage of consumables.
The Renal Patients Association of Ghana has called on the management of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) to reopen the renal unit to outpatients, warning that patients are dying due to the closure.
The call comes after the minority caucus of the Health Committee of Parliament gave the hospital a 24-hour ultimatum to reopen the unit, but the management refused.