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Patients who will be rushed to public hospitals during emergencies risk losing their lives due to shortage of a large number of essential medicines (traceable medicines) nationwide.

Essential medicines (traceable medicines) are used to save the lives of patients rushed to hospitals in emergency situations.

Patients risk not being supplied essential medicines when they seek medical care at various public hospitals across the country.

Data compiled by the Ghana Health Service (GHS), which has been seen by The Finder, indicates that regional medical stores nationwide have reported about 50% shortage of essential medicines.

As a result, the operational level of regional medical stores nationwide is less than 50%.

Possible causes of the shortage include indebtedness of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to the Ghana Health Service, indebtedness of medical stores to suppliers and inefficiencies in the management of drug revolving fund.

Cost of medicines constitutes over 70% of cost incurred in running the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

And therefore, the huge indebtedness of the NHIA to service providers is taking a heavy toll on pharmaceutical companies that supply drugs to service providers.

Currently, public and private health facilities across the country are struggling to provide basic care for patients who are card-bearing subscribers of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) due to unpaid claims by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) totalling GH₵420 million.  

The NHIA paid claims to some service providers up to May 2015 while others were paid up to April 2015.

Service providers nationwide submit an average of GH₵84 million as claims every month to the NHIA.

Based on this, outstanding claims submitted between June 2015 and January 2015 is about GH₵672 million.

The law allows a 90-day grace period for processing and payment of claims; therefore, NHIA will be deemed to be in arrears of five months, which amounts to GH₵420 million.

This is because the claims between June and October 2015 have exceeded the 90-day grace period for processing and payment while the claim submitted at the end of November 2015 will be due for payment at the end of this month.

When contacted, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Pharmacy-Ghana, Mr Anthony Ameka said the indebtedness has resulted in some suppliers blacklisting some members of the chamber or withdrawing contracts.

He explained that the consistent delays in re-imbursement for medicines supplied by members has, on a number of occasions, drawn the attention of government, stakeholders and Ghanaians to the potential risk these delays have on the liquidity and survival of members of the chamber.

He noted that the rather long delay in health insurance re-imbursement has made it difficult for many facilities and institutions across the country to honour their medicine payment obligations. 

Mr Ameka added that it also results in loss of capital in the wake of rising operational costs, unstable forex fluctuations, as well as default in payment of loans to banks.

He lamented that the situation discourages investment into the pharmaceutical industry.
Source: The Finder

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