Scores of Ghanaians who have thronged the various offices of the National Health Insurance Authority in the Eastern region to register or renew their NHIS cards have been left stranded as the authority has run out of the ribbons needed to produce the cards, StarrFMonline.com has learnt.
The situation has reportedly left several pregnant women and the aged who cannot afford medical treatment in private hospitals in dire circumstances. Checks also reveal that many other regions across the country including Tema in Accra have all run out of the essential product.
A staff who spoke in an interview on condition of anonymity said the ribbons run out about a month ago and no official explanation has been offered by the management.
“It’s a pity here. Many pregnant women and old people have been here and you notice that they are in severe pain and desperately need the cards, but we cannot register and renew expired cards because there are no ribbons. And it has been like that for about a month now and nobody is talking to us about it. In some of the districts, the staff do not even go to work because there is nothing to do if they go,” she bemoaned.
Reacting to the development, the head of communications for the NHIA Selorm Adonoo in a interview with StarrFMonline.com said even though the situation was unexpected, other measures have been adopted to ensure the registration and renewal of cards for subscribers.
“The shortage of consumables, mainly, ribbons for printing the cards was really unexpected. It was detected in late April, 2016 that the stock actually meant for the entire year may last just about mid-year. As soon as this was realized, immediate steps were taken to re-stock and as you know, we are a public service institution and are therefore bound by the dictates of the procurement processes which are often long and winding.
“What we are experiencing now is low stock levels of ribbons in a number of our district offices for the past few days which makes it quite difficult for them to serve the public the way they would have loved to, though our projection for this year was worked out taking into account last year’s stocks,” he said.
He added: “But it is important to understand that due to the nature of targets we set for ourselves, we started the year with a lot of outreach and field programs that ensured the registration of many people, which is why you hear in the news that regions like Greater Accra and others have exceeded their quarterly targets.
“Aside from our own program of work, we have been collaborating with other key government and private institutions to undertake special registration exercises like what we are currently doing with the Ghana Education Service and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in registering all pupils in school feeding program schools, all prisoners in the nation’s prisons, some orphanages, the aged and so on.
The collaborations have been very useful and crucial to our success as a social protection program”.