Childhood Cancers included in NHIS benefit package - First Lady announces

Children battling with Childhood Cancers are to receive a groundbreaking healthcare services, following the inclusion of the disease on Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Benefit Package.

First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo

The landmark deal covers the diagnosis and treatment of the four Childhood Cancers, comprising Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Burkitt Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma and Wilms Tumor.

These four, constitute approximately 60% of all Childhood Cancers and are highly curable if detected early.

The First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo announced the deal at the official launch of the 2021 NHIS Week celebration, themed, “NHIS: Using the Ghana Card for Expanding Access to Health Care.”

This was at the Accra International Conference Centre where she described the inclusion of Childhood Cancers in the NHIS Benefit Package as a major intervention in the fight against Childhood cancers.

One major area of concern for many stakeholders was the financing of treatment, which placed a huge burden on families. Indeed, during the commissioning of the Sunshine House, speaker after speaker called for the inclusion of childhood cancers to the NHIS Benefit package. Today brings hope to our children and their families.”

She commended the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) for constantly being innovative.

This addition of childhood cancers to the NHIS Benefit Package is essential. It is cost effective, feasible and can improve survival in children with cancers. Certainly, our children deserve to live long productive lives, to enable them compete successfully with other children in the world. It has taken many years of advocacy, investment and great leadership, to bring us to today’s incredible announcement.

The First Lady called for systematic and compressive awareness creation on Childhood cancers early detection and treatment.

We must institute awareness of early detection to increase better outcomes for our children. This calls for systematic and comprehensive education targeting communities, educators, health personnel, religious organizations, politicians, NGO’s and many others.”

“Education must also set cancer control as a priority health agenda for the larger population. Our people need to know the avoidable cancer risk factors, such as environmental carcinogens, tobacco use, alcohol abuse and infectious agents. Ghanaians need to be empowered to stay healthy.”

As Chair for the occasion, a representative of the Ga Mantse, King Tackie Teiko Tsuru stated, "All stakeholders should give maximum support to the NHIS to ensure a healthy nation."

The Health Minister, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu lauded the theme saying, "It is in line with the national digitization agenda. This ambitious agenda will contribute immensely to government’s commitment to make quality healthcare services accessible and affordable to all residents in Ghana."

He said government would consistently support the NHIA to succeed in attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC). “This government is focused on improving the infrastructure, equipment and laboratory facilities in the health sector.”

“The President as part of his regional tours recently opened two new District Offices for the NHIS in the Amansie East district in the Ashanti Region and the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai district in the Western North Region. We will deliver our promise of binging primary healthcare services to the doorsteps of our people without fail," he stressed.

The Health Minister appreciated the NHIA's home grown innovations. "I am delighted that the NHIA continues to introduce new innovations to expand the NHIS operations. As a government, we will continue to ensure that the NHIS finances are released on time to solve the problem of unpaid bills to healthcare providers. The smooth operationalization of the National Health Insurance Scheme is government’s major priority," he reiterated.

The NHIA Board Chair, Dr. Ernest K. P Kwarko promised that his team will add on the Scheme's successes to ensure its sustainability to achieve UHC.

“I reiterate our pledge to devise strategic and innovative ways of sustaining the NHIS and to resolve challenges pertaining to payments of credentialled service providers claims.”

He urged all holders of the NHIS and Ghana cards to link them by dialing the short code *929# and use one card to access health care.

“With the agenda of Ghana Card being the sole form of identification and access to social services, the NHIA has taken steps in making that happen by linking the NHIS card to the Ghana card. This fits very well into the inclusiveness agenda of the Government to provide affordable healthcare to all residents of Ghana.”

He said the NHIA's digitization agenda will drive up the Scheme's district and regional operations and thereby urged all residents in Ghana to link their NHIS and Ghana cards using the short code *929#.

Dr. Ernest Kwarko gave the assurance that the six new regions will soon get NHIA administrative complexes.

The NHIA Chief Executive, Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby reaffirmed her administration's determination to achieve UHC in Ghana sooner than the targeted 2030.

“This year, we continue with the momentum from this digital innovation to rigorously include every resident with a Ghana Card on the NHIS. We have, thus, deployed several media campaigns to encourage all residents to renew their membership on the NHIS and to do so with ease, using the Ghana Card. Our NHIS week is also dedicated to this goal, and our district, regional and national offices will be championing this cause.”

“We are, therefore, at the crossroads of a strategic moment in history and the NHIA is determined to progress healthcare above and beyond what has ever been established in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.”

“We encourage all residents to enroll on the NHIS, and especially urge all inactive members of the NHIS to renew their membership to enjoy these benefits. We call on the inherent philanthropic nature of citizens and residents of Ghana to take up the responsibility of renewing NHIS membership for friends, family, and individuals within our social networks. We also implore religious bodies, civil societies, corporate entities and indeed everyone to organize ‘renewal parties’ where the cost of NHIS membership is catered for” she stressed.

She underscored the need for credentialed health care service providers to establish facilities in underserved communities.

There were solidarity messages from the NHIA’s development partners and other allied health bodies including UNICEF and Roche.

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