Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has called on managers of the National Health Insurance scheme to work hard to break the knot of institutional bureaucracy that affects its implementation.
President Rawlings said: “the procedure for processing poor patients who cannot afford to pre-finance the purchase of drugs and other in-patient needs is burdensome and leads sometimes to unfortunate fatalities.”
The former President praised the Health Insurance scheme as playing a positive role but lamented how officialdom and paperwork was affecting the true value of the scheme.
President Rawlings who spoke as the Guest of Honour at the 9th Matriculation and 4th Graduationceremony of the Narh-Bita College in Tema on Tuesday, also called on nurses who administer the NHIS to put a human face to its challenges, to ease the painpatients have to endure.
He called on the graduates to be patient-friendly and professional when they soon enter various health institutions as nurses and heath-care assistants.
Please find the full text of President Rawlings’ address below:
9TH MATRICULATION & 4TH GRADUATION CEREMONY
ADDRESS BY H.E. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GHANA AND VERY SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 20, 2012
Reverend Ayeh Kumi, Chairman for the occasion, President of Narh-Bita College, Dr Edward Narh, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Appiah Denkyira, Ms. Veronica Darko, Registrar of the Nurses and Midwives Council, Niimei, Lecturers and Students of Narh-Bita College, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is an honour to join you here today on the occasion of the 9th Matriculation and 4th Graduation ceremony of the Narh-Bita College.
Quality and effective healthcare in Ghana is a matter of concern to every Ghanaian. Our health indices confirm that a lot of hard work is required in order to improve health delivery systems in the country.
According to the World Bank, the infant mortality rate per 1000 for 2010 was 53.8, it increases to 81.1 for between birth and under five years and Life Expectancy at birth is 62.3.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghana’s health delivery has seen a metamorphosis between 1979, when Narh-Bita Clinic was born and now. Under the PNDC and first NDC governments, a conscious effort was made to improve Primary Healthcare facilities across the country.
The country’s health systems were in dire straits and we had to institute measures to combat the six childhood killer diseases - measles, tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis and whooping cough.
We also ensured the expansion of health infrastructure through regional and district hospitals and embraced the establishment of privately sponsored health care facilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is no coincidence that Narh-Bita Clinic was established in 1979. The situation with the provision of health called for all to join hands in providing trusted healthcare.
We must commend the initiators of the Narh-Bita project, Dr and Mrs Narh for their sense of vision and ambition to defy the odds in introducing state-of-the-art private healthcare.
Narh-Bita, having grown from a clinic in 1979 to a hospital in 1987 then graduated to a School of Nursing before attaining college status in 2008.
It is particularly impressive that the Narh-Bita College was borne by the desire to confront the problem of shortage of healthcare workers. It is also worthy of praise that the College, unlike many others has striven to maintain the highest standards by associating itself with the University of Ghana, the Ghana Health Service and the Nurses and Midwives Council which directs and supervises the academic programme.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; as you hold your graduation and matriculationceremonies today, it is imperative that we focus on the role nurses play in the healthcare delivery chain.
Nurses serve as a first point of contact for patients at almost every healthcare facility. They are customer service executive who are to ensure that their customers or patients feel comfortable upon arrival at the facility.
Nurses assist doctors to perform their duties and always maintain a first-hand contact with both the patient and the doctor. A smart nurse understands the needs of her patient and has a fair idea of what the doctor requires to bring the patient back to excellent health.
Ladies and gentlemen; a lot has been learnt at the college, but your true worth as a nurse is how fast you can learn on the job and how professional and patient-friendly you can be when the demands and challenges of the job affect your day-to-day life.
Nursing may not be rewarding financially, but what is more rewarding than bringing a smile on the face of a patient who is in pain, what is more commendable than having a life-long desire to see sick persons recuperate and what is more of an achievement that having doctors admire you for your high-level of competence?
Patients have complained about some nurses who are cold, abusive and insensitive to their plight. It is important that you do not adopt such habits when you join the service. For those who are matriculating today your years of study at Narh-Bita should inculcate in you positive ideals that society will be proud of.
Ladies and gentlemen; healthcare delivery is a difficult task because many patients cannot afford to procure the required medication needed for effective recuperation. Nurses on a daily basis have to manage difficult situations of patients who have no resources but still seek effective healthcare. The National Health Insurance, which had its beginnings during my administration, is playing quite a positive role but it is still grappling with heavy bureaucracy and nurses grapple every day to offer hope to all patients every minute, every day. Ayekoo is not enough for yourefforts.
I call on the managers of the NHIS to urgently look into instituting machinery that would ensure the smooth processing of patients who have no money at all when they enter hospitals. This is because the procedure for processing poor patients who cannot afford to pre-finance the purchase of drugs and other in-patient needs is burdensome and leads sometimes to unfortunate fatalities. I have had reports of patients accosting other patient to beg for money to procure drugs when the Health Insurance process should guarantee that basic right.
Nurses who help the Health Insurance scheme to process patients in hospitals should also endeavour to put a very human face to the procedure. Making it complex and cumbersome means many patients prefer to go begging for money than to take advantage of the insurance scheme. It is disheartening to note that in a few hospitals the non-NHIS patients who can afford to pay for their healthcare find themselves being fast-tracked ahead of the slow never-ending NHIS queue. We can do better.
To the management and staff of the Narh-Bita College and hospital I say thank you for serving as a viable source of medical care to the people of Tema and beyond. You have established very high standards but it is imperative that those standards are maintained. Management is encouraged to reward staff adequately for their services and not compromise on quality. I hope that your plans to collaborate with the famous George Washington University would come to fruition.
To all the graduates I say congratulations for the successful conclusion of your various academic programmes and to the new students, welcome to Narh-Bita College.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; thank you for offering me the opportunity to be part of this beautiful ceremony.