Female porters call for improved health services

Some female porters (kayayei) interviewed in a study conducted by ABANTU for Development, a non-governmental organisation, on their access to health care under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) have expressed dissatisfaction about the services they receive in some health centres.

According to the study, they complained of being discriminated against anytime they visited health facilities, leading to unnecessary delay in accessing health care, and called for improved services at health facilities.

The research, which was conducted in three metropolises, namely Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, revealed that the ‘kayayei’ complained of discrimination from the hospital staff, particularly nurses whenever they visited the facilities to seek  health care.

The research, a STAR-Ghana funded project, was on the topic, “Enhancing Gender and Social Responsiveness of the NHIS: The case of the female porter and senior citizens.”

At a stakeholders forum organised by ABANTU for Development, in collaboration with Window of Hope, a local NGO, to disseminate the research report, it also came to light that majority of the respondents expressed their unhappiness about the fact that despite the operation of the NHIS, they sometimes paid for the cost of some drugs  and medical tests, which, according to health officials, are not covered under the scheme.

Out of the 303 interviewed in the three metropolises, 71.6 per cent had registered with the scheme with 50.8 per cent having valid NHIS cards, that is, unexpired cards.

The study, however, established that female senior citizens who reported at the hospitals were given fair treatment by the hospital staff.

Majority of those with valid NHIS cards were found to be female senior citizens and this was because most of them were pensioners, while others fell under the exempt group and as such paid lower than the average subscription premium.

The research, therefore, recommended the need for the scheme to do sex disaggregated data to enable it to respond to the specific needs of different groups of women and men.

It further suggested that the scheme should collect the mobile numbers of members during registration and find ways of tracking the expiration and renewal dates.

That, according to the research, would allow the scheme to partner with the telecommunication companies  operating in the country to send text messages or voice messages to prompt card holders to renew them.

According to Ms Afua Gyapomaa of ABANTU for Development, who presented the report, “there is the perception among our respondents that the NHIS covers only the less expensive medicines.”

This was confirmed by some of the health officials who attended the programme and claimed it was becoming very difficult to run the facilities due to unavailability of funds and as result, health facilities had to charge the patients for their services.

The study established that most of the respondents had a fair knowledge of the NHIS, despite  some few misconceptions and misunderstandings, particularly with regards to renewal.


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