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Pregnant women in Talensi, Nabdam not enjoying free maternal health care under NHIS

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As part of the three-year Gender Rights and Empowerment Project (GREP) implemented by Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment (RISE)-Ghana in partnership with the Talensi and Nabdam Health Directorates, it has been revealed that many pregnant women do not enjoy the free maternal health care policy in some health facilities.

Ghana introduced a free maternal health care policy under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2008. Under this policy, all pregnant women are exempted from paying NHIS premiums for new subscriptions and are entitled to free antenatal care.

However, speaking at a data validation meeting on a survey titled “Assessing Utilization of NHIS by Pregnant Women for Antenatal Care Services in the Talensi and Nabdam Districts of the Upper East Region,” the head of programs at RISE-Ghana, Jaw-haratu Amadu, indicated that some facilities charge unapproved fees despite the free maternal policy under the NHIS.

According to Mrs. Amadu, out of 300 pregnant women interviewed from 14 health facilities in the Talensi and Nabdam districts, the majority of them paid money to access antenatal care, including taking vitals.

“One interesting thing was the fact that the result shows that the National Health Insurance is working for pregnant women, and the level of satisfaction was about 58 percent. But the remaining percentage [42] was the fact that there are illegal payments that come with it when it comes to accessing antenatal care services using the National Health Insurance. They said there are illegal payments when you are going for lab tests, illegal payments when you are going for scans, and illegal payments when it comes to medication.”

“But the free maternal health policy says that a pregnant woman should be able to get complete free services. But the women say that they pay some amount of money in the health facilities when they go for lab services and their routine medication, which is supposed to be part of the National Health Insurance list, but they are asked to go and buy. When it comes to scan services, they have to travel out of their various districts to Bolgatanga to access scan services, which is always expensive for them,” she stated in an interview.

The district manager for NHIS at the Talensi and Nabdam, Mohammed Awudu, said his outfit will continue to educate NHIS subscribers, especially pregnant women, to know more about the scheme and avoid illegal payments.

While applauding RISE-Ghana for the initiative, Maria Mahama, the Nabdam District Health Director, said her outfit will take up all the issues raised by the pregnant women and address them with the heads of the various facilities if unapproved fees are being taken.

The three-year Gender Rights and Empowerment Project (GREP), under which this survey was carried out by RISE-Ghana in partnership with the Talensi and Nabdam Health Directorate, is being supported by STAR-Ghana Foundation with funding from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|David Azure|Ghana

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