The Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, has described as “surprising”, threats by the Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana to halt the supply of drugs to health providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Government reportedly settled part of the GHC 1.2 million arrears that the scheme currently owes providers, but the Chamber is insisting the amount is not enough.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, the Health Minister, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, wondered why the Chamber was unwilling to negotiate on the terms of payment when it had held earlier consultations with government on the payment terms.
“I am a bit surprised because last two or three weeks when we were in Kumasi during the health summit, I think I came out clearly to say that we were going to start making some payments and since we came, we did the March payment.”
“I explained to them that …we are making arrangements with the Finance Ministry and it may be likely that we will do a significant payment and that will cover about two or three months arrears for them. …And then going forward, we were still anticipating some arrangement to bring us more money so by the close of the year, we may have reduced this indebtedness to some level that is appreciable or acceptable, so I am a bit surprised about what is being reported,” the Minister said.
The Minister indicated that, the situation was even worse under the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, saying “even as far back as last year when we had not even come to power yet, some of the pharmacists had withdrawn their services.” Mr. Agyemang –Manu said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration has been forced to deal with the situation because the outgoing government failed to leave enough funds to settle these arrears.
“I appreciate their concerns but the bottom line is that, if you inherit a system that did not leave money sitting down to do these payments you have to find a way to get some of these payments done.”
He however asked them to exercise patience as the Ministry works to resolve the issue.
The Chamber of Pharmacy is not the only institution that has expressed frustration over outstanding arrears.
The Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), has also complained about the situation, saying government has so far reimbursed only one of the 12 months the NHIS owes its member institutions.