Former President John Mahama has reiterated his commitment to creating decent jobs for the Ghanaian youth and a health care that can be accessed by all when he is voted to power in the upcoming elections.
Speaking at a dialogue series organized by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) at the La Palm Beach Hotel Monday, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer observed that nine years from now, “the timeline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will catch up with us” and indicated that as part of meeting the target, access to quality healthcare must improve drastically.
He said it is against that backdrop did the NDC made a research on how to implement a free primary health care for all Ghanaians.
“Health, truly, is wealth. But this should not mean that one must be wealthy to access good
healthcare. We must work to eliminate the agony of a mother or father witnessing the death of a sick child
due to his or her inability to pay for health care,” Mahama said.
The former president said the “quest for health for all cannot be achieved at our current pace, nor with the current arrangement, which is mainly, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)” as the scheme keeps growing on the average at 0.27% every year between 2017 and 2019 with a yearly population growth rate is 2.2%.
He added, “The rate must be consistent with population growth if we are to attain health for all by 2030. We have all not done too well.”
Why Free Primary Health Care
Mr Mahama also indicated that currently, only 40% of the country’s population are on the National Health Insurance Scheme and referred to a report from Oxfam International in 2019 that only 2% of Ghana’s poor (as defined by the United Nations) are on health insurance.
“This implies a staggering 98% of the poor, who are more susceptible to various communicable and non-communicable diseases, are excluded from the social protection provided by the NHIS. Further evidence indicates that vulnerabilities within specific groups such as persons with disabilities and the aged impede access to the NHIS,” he stated.
He said despite the existence of the NHIS, health care costs are still high which may prevent Ghana from achieving health for all by the year 2030, adding ” the situation may actually be more critical and dire than we realise.”
“This state of affairs is a travesty that flies in the face of social justice! As a Social Democrat, speaking on the platform of the Centre for Social Justice, I wish to reiterate that we owe the poor and vulnerable groups, an urgent transformational solution and not a piecemeal approach.This is why I urge you to support the Free Primary Health Care policy in the Peoples’ Manifesto.”
He said the urgent transformational solution to Ghana’s health needs, Free Primary Health Care, will provide
better health care for all Ghanaians including the poor and vulnerable.
Mr Mahama stated “People with disabilities will be supplied with assistive medical devices” and added ” Let me be very clear, the Free Primary Health Care policy will provide health care for all Ghanaians at no cost, in district hospitals, polyclinics, clinics, health centres and CHPS Compounds.”
“You will not need a health insurance card – state or private – to benefit from Free Primary health care. You will not have to pay a premium to benefit,” he rehashed.
Throwing more light on the youth unemployment situation in the country, the NDC leader observed that his previous government had to build a solid foundation by tackling social infrastructure deficit in the country which created jobs and admitted the ones his next government will create will be decent jobs.
He mentioned under the ‘Edwuma Pa” policy to create jobs, the next NDC government will implement its outlined plan to develop and create a minimum of one million jobs under at the end of his four year tenure.
“We went to the people, they spoke, and we listened,” he said and explained that their job creation plan will
be the predominant preoccupation of the next NDC Government where 250, 000 jobs wiull be created
every year to enhance the livelihoods of Ghanaians.
“Under Edwuma Pa we will create a 24-hour economy where three shifts of 8-hours each a day would be a norm in order to meet the anticipated national and foreign demand for goods from Ghana as we aggressively diversify our economy and add value to our products for export,” Mahama assured.
Some of the jobs policies fall under ‘the Big Push’ agenda to improve infrastructure in the country and boost the construction industry, set up factories to add value to raw materials, a national apprenticeship programme to create jobs for abour 500,000 school drop-outs amongst others.
The NDC has also pledged that SMEs will enjoy tax incentives as well as stimulus packages to help creat jobs in the private sector.