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GHS advocates the inclusion of elephantiasis patients in health insurance

The Ghana Health Service through the Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme (NTDP) has organised a day sensitisation meeting to advocate for the inclusion of Elephantiasis patients in the free health insurance beneficiaries.

The meeting, held in Koforidua, came about after the NTDP piloted a successful advocacy intervention in the Upper East Region which provided information and education on lymphedema patients entitlements and benefits package under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The Ghana Health Service and the American Leprosy Missions, therefore aim to replicate the successful implementation of the advocacy exercise in the remaining endemic regions of which Eastern Region is part.

The advocacy meeting brought together representatives from the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Social Welfare and Community Development, Media, Eastern Regional Coordinating Council, and the Disability Group.

In his speech, Dr. Joseph Kwadwo Opare, Programme Manager of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme said the Lymphatic Filariases (LF) was a debilitating neglected tropical disease, which leads to gross disfigurement and eventual disability.

That, he said, the major challenge of people affected by the disease was lack of access to appropriate health services due to financial barriers.

The lymphatic filariases affects the leg, hand, breast and the hydrocele.

He said the primary goal of the LF elimination programme was to reduce the prevalence of NTDs in Ghana to the level that is no longer of public health significance by 2030.

Mr. Solomon Atinbire, Programme Manager of the American Leprosy Missions, said the meeting had clear advocacy goals which were advocacy for the inclusion of lymphedema patients to benefit from free health insurance scheme, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme and the three percent disability fund.

It also advocates building a network of support for lymphedema patients; and use the expertise of the NHIA staff to educate LF patient groups about their benefits and entitlements under the NHIS.

Mr. Bright Alomatu, Desk Officer for the Lymphatic Filariases at the NTDP, said recommendations included a formation of a regional advocacy team that would supervise the review of the list of affected people in the region and with a cover letter from the Department of Social Welfare introducing them as indigents, the patients will get registered for NHIS cards free of charge to access health care.

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