Material Shortage Hits NHIS . . . But NHIA Says It Is Supply Chain Hiccup

Authorities at the health insurance provider, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), have given the indication to pay the two-month arrears of service providers, but the Authority appears to be in more financial trouble as it is currently beset with the shortage of materials for the registration of subscribers across the country.

Business Day Ghana can report that there is widespread shortage of materials for the renewal of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards and the registration of new subscribers unto the scheme.

Some of the areas hardest hit by the widespread shortage are Techiman, Bechem, Sunyani (all in the Brong Ahafo Region), Nsawam and its surrounding areas in the Eastern Region, Kumasi metropolis in the Ashanti Region and the NHIA Accra regional office at North Dzorwulu, behind the Tullow Oil building on the George Walker Bush N1 Highway, and the Okaikoi Sub-Metro office, among other areas in the Greater Accra Region.

The situation, Business Day Ghana has learnt, is not different in the Upper West and East regions of the country.

Eye witnesses reports from across the regions have it that many new clients of the scheme are turned away on daily basis as a result of the shortage of the materials for the registration.

Scores of would-be subscribers have had disappointment written on their faces when they visited the offices of NHIA to register but were told there were no materials for their registration.

Reports say the development has created massive inconvenience to clients who had to travel all the way to registration centres to have their cards renewed to access health care.

Reports corroborated by Business Day Ghana scouts in the regions say some unscrupulous staff of the NHIA have allegedly turned the shortage of the materials into an avenue to milk unsuspecting clients.

The reports further reveal that some unpatriotic personnel of the NHIA have allegedly made it their stock in trade to demand moneys from clients under the pretext of giving them first hand services the very moment the materials for the cards arrive, if only they can pay more.

In areas where there are no shortages, staff have purportedly created artificial shortage by telling poor clients who they suspect cannot pay more to go home and come back when the materials are available but charge a few more cedis for the renewal and new registration if the subscriber is capable of paying more.

When Business Day Ghana contacted Dr Nii Annan Adjetey, who is believed to have taken over from Ametor Quamyne as the Communications Consultant to NHIA, he said the procurement of the materials is done centrally and not done by individual district offices across the country.

According to him, in the past the authority did not experience any such problems because the authority had a contractual arrangement with the suppliers to pay them to supply.

The situation is so because the authority has a supply chain hiccup and this has resulted in the problem being experienced by subscribers.

He gave the assurance that it is a situation management is highly working on and very soon supplies will resume.

He denied any knowledge of timelines but said “it is something management is working on to remedy the situation.”

He told Business Day Ghana he is not surprised that some subscribers are coming out with the conspiracy theories that some district offices are creating artificial shortages in the wake of the problems faced by the authority.

He said the NHIA district office staffs are not creating any artificial shortage to profit from.

He argued that the workers of the authority will not put their jobs on the line in such a situation, maintaining that this is happening because of the lack of information on the part of subscribers.