Broke NHIA accused of misappropriating limited funds

Source: Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Nathan Gadugah

At a time when the National Health Insurance Authority is demanding an increase in a levy to salvage the scheme from total collapse, it is emerging the authority is expending the limited resources it has on political party assigns and other activities completely unrelated to health delivery.

Documents intercepted by Joy News indicate the Authority spent in excess of ¢900 million on activities including a meeting with government communication team ostensibly to inform and educate them about the Authority’s programmes.

There are also indications, some government officials made cash demands on the Authority to enable them to travel outside the country for training programmes.

One of such letters is a March 16, 2018 letter written by Deputy Majority Leader Sara Adwoa Safo requesting for NHIA sponsorship for an executive leadership training programme in Harvard.

The cost for the training programme was $8,500 which is cost of tuition and air travel.

There was also an internal memo from the Deputy Chief Executive, Administration to the Deputy Director Marketing demanding the release of 62,370.00 for the training of 70 members of the government communications team for the purposes “to inform, educate and communicate with stakeholders.”

Details of the document suggest that the 70 persons were to be treated to some coffee and lunch break at a cost of 10,370.00 with a total amount of ¢52,000 being honorarium to the participants.

In the wake of these expenses, a third document has been cited, titled “confidential,” emanating from National Security in which a complaint is made to the NHIA about shortages of consumables in the Krachi East District.

The shortages have led to the delay in the issuance of NHIS cards to new applicants since March 2018.

“Your outfit is hereby urged to fast-track the release of funds to the region to enable the aforementioned district to resume the issuance of new cards to prospective applicants since the situation has the potential of affecting healthcare delivery…” the letter said.

But the Chief Executive of the Authority Dr Samuel Annor says his outfit is broke and the scheme may collapse if government does not take steps to increase the NHIS levy.

By law, the NHIA is entitled to 2.5% VAT levy for purposes of financing health care delivery in the country.

Dr Annor is however appealing to government to increase the levy to 3.5% to save the scheme from total collapse.

He is also appealing for the institution of a health tax to be imposed on products like sugar, cigarette and alcohol to raise more money to finance health care.

But the Minority members of the Health Committee in Parliament cannot comprehend how the NHIA will demand for more money when it is dissipating the limited resources it has on expenses completely unrelated to health delivery.

Deputy Ranking member on the health committee Dr Robert Kuganab is incensed by the expenses made and is demanding answers.

“This year NHIS has spent 900 million on items that are not related to paying for service and so it is not about the quantum of money that goes in there is about that money is being used,” he said.

He said the expenses made by the NHIA were completely outside its mandate.

According to him, an amount of 2.2bn cedis was to have been raised through the NHIS levy. However an amount of 300 million cedis was withdrawn for the payment of nursing allowance.

Another 200 million was withdrawn to buy essential drugs by the Health Ministry

He said the misuse of these amounts is mindboggling.

That is the situation we find ourselves in. So it is not about the 2.5% which is not adequate for the funding of the service providers. It is rather the misuse of this amount. So we should not be talking about the increase to 3.5%. We should be talking about the efficient use of the 2.5% levy.

Meanwhile, the Director of Communications at the Procurement Ministry has justified the decision by the Minister of Procurement to seek sponsorship from the NHIA except to add that the sponsorship was never granted.

Solomon Sasu Mensah said as leader of women’s caucus in Parliament she needed to upgrade herself and knowledge to effectively work as the chairperson of the caucus.

“As an individual, if you get an opportunity like this you can apply to any institution and that is exactly what she did but it was not even granted,” he said.

He said as far as he knows Parliament eventually paid for the training programme at Harvard. 

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