President of the Renal Patient Association of Ghana, Baffour Kojo Ahenkorah, has asked the Finance Ministry to consider making special fund available for renal care of kidney patients in the 2024 budget statement scheduled for today, November, 15, 2023.
He made this known in an interview with Citi FM.
“The government needs to intervene at this time. The GH¢380 we are currently paying has remained the same for years. If this continues, the government may need to subsidize almost GH¢1 million every month. Now, the question is, can this be sustained? Can the government continue to provide this support every month? If it can, then hallelujah. But the fact remains that even the GH¢380, we as patients were unable to pay; someone else was covering the costs for us. So, the government needs to examine this issue. If they decide to incorporate it into the national health insurance, so be it. They should work out the details so that it can be covered by health insurance, preventing patients from suffering in the event of a closure, where patients would face dire consequences.”
He added, “The way forward is for the government to step in. In some other countries, and while Ghana may not directly compare itself to them, dialysis is provided free of charge. Even if you are affluent, the cost of dialysis can quickly deplete your financial resources. Therefore, governments need to take a critical look at the situation and expedite the necessary actions. Whether they choose to include it in the health insurance or allocate funds in the budget, perhaps on a quarterly basis, to support the renal unit for treatment. This approach would likely be the best solution because this is an issue that nobody can manage on their own.”
This comes after government announced an amount of GH¢4 million to help clear the outstanding debt of the renal unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
The outpatient department of the renal unit was closed down in May 2023 due to debt, leading to the death of 19 patients.
The closure also inconvenienced other patients who rely on dialysis services, forcing them to seek treatment elsewhere at a higher cost.
Although the facility has since reopened, Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu told Parliament that the Ministry of Health has engaged the Ministry of Finance and secured the approval of GH¢4 million to pay the unit’s debt.
“The Ministry of Health has since requested the Ministry of Finance to settle the total indebtedness of GH¢4 million and the good news is that the Minister of Finance has just approved the disbursement of this GH¢4 million to support our patients in Korle-Bu,” Manu said.