Editorial; According to Maria Helena Palucci Marziale: ” Universal Access to Health is considered to be the absence of socio-cultural, organisational, economic, geographic and gender-related barriers in health care, and Universal Health Coverage to be the capacity of health systems to respond to the populations’ needs at any care level, providing infrastructure, appropriately skilled human resources and health technologies without causing financial damage.”
Although access to health is a right, it is recognised as a critical component of human security, which persons like Bismark Owusu, a 16 year-old Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidate, may find it a privilege.
This has to do with the Junior High School (JHS) final year student taking his exams in a rather precarious health condition – chronic kidney disease.
The 16-year old, who is writing the BECE at the Sefwi Juaboso District of the Western North Region, is appealing for help to enable him continue with his education, since his parents cannot afford the treatment.
Bismark, in an exclusive interview with The Chronicle, said due to his health condition, he finds it extremely difficult to read the examination questions.
“Even the COVID-19 pandemic, in some ways, has helped me to go in and out for my routine check-ups, and also got enough time to study in the house. I can’t see the paper well when I am reading the questions; I find it extremely difficult to see the words,” he bemoaned.
Bismarck’s ordeal brings to question the manifesto pledges of the two major political parties, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic (NDC), in addressing the health needs of the less privileged.
Both manifestoes make the attempt to enhance the health sector, but to a large extent there still exist major barriers to address the health conditions of the poor of the poorest.
The thematic areas of the NPP manifesto, with respect to health, include to work with the Ghana Medical and Dental Council to streamline the admission processes for foreign-trained doctors, expand access to medical schools in Ghana by building additional facilities and augment its human resource base, eliminate import duties on sanitary pads to improve health outcomes, particularly for girls, and focus on telemedicine to enhance health delivery, whilst the NDC focuses on expanding health infrastructure.
Although these ideas are all good and critical for national development to enhance the reach of the Universal Health Coverage, it would be prudent for more investment to be made into the National Health Insurance Scheme for the treatment of chronic diseases or non-communicable diseases (NCD) like kidney failure and cancer.
As the story was told to The Chronicle reporter, Bismark’s parents are farmers, and the treatment of their son will be a financial burden on them.
The Chronicle is very concerned about the expansion of the NHIS coverage, because health is a right, just as education or other rights spelt out by the 1992 Constitution. It is The Chronicle’s opinion that the treatment of NCDs should be free for persons 18 years and below, as well as the aged.
Perhaps, Bismark might be one out of 1,000 unfortunate persons suffering from NCD whose story has been told.
The nation must begin to develop a universal health scheme to take care of similar situations and at affordable cost to the ordinary person.
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