BMC Int Health Hum Rights 2016 Sep 5;16(1):23. Epub 2016 Sep 5.
Navrongo Health Research Centre, Ghana Health Service, P.O.Box 114, Navrongo, Ghana.
Background: In 2005, the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged member states to aim at achieving affordable universal coverage and access to key promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health interventions for all their citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity. Since then, some African countries, including Ghana, have taken steps to introduce national health insurance reforms as one of the key strategies towards achieving universal health coverage (UHC). The aim of this study was to get a better understanding of how Ghana's health insurance institutions interact with stakeholders and other health sector programmes in promoting primary health care (PHC). Specifically, the study identified the key areas of misalignment between the operations of the NHIS and that of PHC.
Methods: Using qualitative and survey methods, this study involved interviews with various stakeholders in six selected districts in the Upper East region of Ghana. The key stakeholders included the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), district coordinators of the National Health Insurance Schemes (NHIS), the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) who supervise the district hospitals, health centers/clinics and the Community-based Health and Planning Services (CHPS) compounds as well as other public and private PHC providers. A stakeholders' workshop was organized to validate the preliminary results which provided a platform for stakeholders to deliberate on the key areas of misalignment especially, and to elicit additional information, ideas and responses, comments and recommendations from respondents for the achievement of the goals of UHC and PHC.
Results: The key areas of misalignments identified during this pilot study included: delays in reimbursements of claims for services provided by health care providers, which serves as a disincentive for service providers to support the NHIS; inadequate coordination among stakeholders in PHC delivery; and inadequate funding for PHC, particularly on preventive and promotive services. Other areas are: the bypassing of PHC facilities due to lack of basic services at the PHC level such as laboratory services, as well as proximity to the district hospitals; and finally the lack of clear understanding of the national policy on PHC.
Conclusion: This study suggests that despite the progress that has been made since the establishment of the NHIS in Ghana, there are still huge gaps that need urgent attention to ensure that the goals of UHC and PHC are met. The key areas of misalignment identified in this study, particularly on the delays in reimbursements need to be taken seriously. It is also important for more dialogue between the NHIA and service providers to address key concerns in the implementation of the NHIS which is key to achieving UHC.