Korle Bu Rejects NHIS

Patients on admission at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital cannot access drugs on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) list from the main pharmacy within the hospital, The Finder has learnt. They say they are always turned away when they present their cards for service. Some relatives of patients on admission told The Finder that they were surprised at the phenomenon. “I don’t understand why Korle Bu would not accept NHIS and thus I could not get the drugs for my son, but had to go to a private pharmacy, where I was served,” a parent lamented. The Finder’s sources within the hospital indicated that the some of the pharmacies are not accredited to provide patients with drugs on the NHIS list while others are operationally handicapped. “Since the main pharmacy does not provide the service for patients on NHIS, we write the drugs and request that they obtain them from across the street,” a nurse at Korle Bu told this reporter. At the 37 Military Hospital, a staff at the entrance of the pharmacy said “I’m sorry; we don’t accept NHIS here.” Officers at the NHIS office within the Military Hospital said the pharmacy was not accredited and as such could not provide the service. Further checks conducted by this reporter at the pharmacies at the precincts of the Korle Bu and 37 Military hospitals revealed scores of patients and their relatives awaiting their turn to procure drugs with the NHIS. One woman who was emerging from one of the pharmacies opposite the Korle Bu hospital confirmed the information when she remarked, “They told me to come here for the drugs and I have been queuing for them.” When contacted, the public relations officer (PRO) of the Korle Bu Hospital, Mr Mustapha Salifu, admitted the development but explained that the hospital’s main pharmacy was providing NHIS services to out-patients. He said the hospital was having some challenges with keeping records of in-patients on NHIS. “We realised we could not track the records of patients who were on NHIS and had been served drugs. We could not even trace who had taken what and the quantities taken,” he said. According to the PRO, it happened that all the drugs served to patients could not be accounted for so management decided to use the software currently in use at the hospital’s polyclinic to help track the information about those who access the service. Mr Salifu disclosed that in and out-patients were benefiting from the service at the hospital’s polyclinic, but he was quick to add that a lot depended on the availability of the drugs at the pharmacy. With the main pharmacy, the software failed to work, he said. “We attempted doing it but were told to apply to the Public Procurement Authority for clearance so we have duly applied to them and are awaiting their approval,” he explained. He gave the assurance that as soon as the approval was given, the software would be installed and services rendered.