Ghana should provide free health care- NGO

Essential Service Platform, a non governmental organisation (NGO) on Tuesday urged the government to take the financial opportunity offered by the UK and other European countries to make free healthcare a reality. A statement signed by Mr Justin Morgan, Country Director of OXFAM stated that while pregnant women were eligible for free healthcare children did not have that guarantee. It said at the end of 2008 only 54 per cent of the population registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme. The statement said failure to provide free public health care means that millions of Ghanaians were paying with their lives. It said a report entitled: “Your Money or Your Life,” which was signed by Essential Service Platform and Integrated Social Development Centre, another NGO stated that globally more than nine million children die each year, before their fifth birth day along with more than half a million pregnant women due to lack of access to healthcare. “The universal access to healthcare is a matter of choice but the coalition believes that with this new momentum it should be a right,” the statement said. It said millions of people would be offered a lifeline when government had the chance to expand free healthcare in developing countries. At the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 23, world leaders would extend free health services in at least seven countries such as Ghana, Burundi, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal and Sierra Leone. The statement said Ghana was yet to meet the requirement of spending 15 per cent of its budget on health, though this commitment existed, adding that there was a clear need to prioritize health issues. “This could be achieved through progressive taxation, oil revenues, scaled-up aid and other initiatives,” the statement said. According to the statement in Ghana, the average life expectancy is 58 years, while the 70 per cent of people in the three northern regions lived on less than $1 a day. Only Few Northerners had access to appropriate healthcare. For this reason, the statement said no excuses were acceptable in delaying the delivery of healthcare for the citizenry. Ghana Essential Services Platform is an advocacy group and a coalition of health education water and sanitation officials aimed among other things to combat poverty.