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Upper East Regional Hospital introduces sanitation levy to help address NHIS arrears

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Management of the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga is compelled to introduce a sanitation levy to enable the hospital to operate smoothly following the National Health Insurance Authority’s (NHIA) failure to pay arrears owed to the hospital. 

Government, through the NHIA, owes the regional hospital arrears of up to 10 months, which has led to the introduction of the Sanitation Levy. Out-patients seeking medical attention at the Upper East Regional Hospital are supposed to pay Ghc10 to the hospital’s bank account with the Ghana Commercial Bank. 

The patient, after paying the money to a stationed banker at the hospital premises, is then given a receipt and told to proceed to join a queue to meet a doctor. Again, patients on admission are expected to pay Ghc20 as Sanitation Levy upon their discharge. 

Management of the facility, when contacted, explained that they were compelled to introduce the levy following the locked-up NHIA arrears or, better yet, an erratic inflow of NHIA funds to the hospital. According to the management, the client base of the hospital is over 90 percent dependent on NHIA. 

Unfortunately, they said the NHIA’s delay in disbursing funds to the hospital is negatively impacting its operations. The approximately seven members of the management team who spoke to the media under the condition of anonymity said the 10 and 20 cedis Sanitation Levy would address the sanitation-related issues of the hospital since the government does not recruit cleaners for the facility, and when it does, they are few and paid from the internally generated funds of the hospital. 

The management added that the levy would also be used for the maintenance of equipment to keep the facility running smoothly. They said it is not compulsory for patients to pay the Sanitation Levy but the public is encouraged to pay to keep the facility running. The management stated that children below 5 years and pregnant women are exempt from paying. 

But some patients who spoke to A1 Radio blamed the hospital authorities for failing to sensitise the public about the unpopular Sanitation Levy before it was introduced. 

They are therefore appealing to the management to either reduce the amount charged or scrap it due to the financial challenges that Ghanaians are currently going through.

“I have been here up to 10 times this month. Anytime I visit the hospital, I pay 10 cedis as levy. And today when I came, they said I would be paying 20 cedis because there was a day I visited the hospital but did not pay. It is unfair, it is too much. I have been coming with the same issue, and every time I come, I have to pay 10 cedis,” Rabi Iddrisu lamented.

An unemployed graduate, Monica Adongo, who was admitted, said she had to pay 20 cedis before she was cleared to leave the hospital premises.

“So far, I have paid 20 cedis after I was discharged, and when I visit the hospital three times for reviews and laboratory tests, I pay another 30 cedis. If they suspend it, it will be good for us. Just look at the number of patients that visit here, and they are charging 10 and 20 cedis; it is too much.”

“We have not been informed about this levy, and when you bring your patient here, you have to pay this money before you can see a doctor. I think it is not fair”, Adongo David, a parent, lamented.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Joshua Asaah|Bolgatanga|Ghana

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