Madam Paulina Patience Abayage, the Upper East Regional Minister on Wednesday launched a “Needy Child Fund” for the Paediatric Department of the Regional hospital in Bolgatanga.
The fund would enable sick and needy children in the Region to access quality health care services. The Department lost three children in the first quarter of this year, whilst several parents and caregivers absconded with their wards because they could not afford the cost of treatment.
Speaking at the “Child Health Open Day” forum organised by the hospital to launch the fund, Madam Abayage said the event was to rally the people to contribute to the fund to support government’s determination to provide holistic healthcare services to all.
She noted that though efforts were being made by government through the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Maternal and Child Health programmes to cater to the health needs of Ghanaians, some segments of the society still had real constraints in accessing healthcare.
The Minister who pledged GH¢10.000 as seed capital for the fund, observed that “Some poor parents of sick children find it difficult to register or renew their NHIS cards, while others are unable to afford the cost of drugs for their wards which are not covered by the NHIS.”
She said the plight of child-patients became more worrying when they were referred to higher facilities for attention because their parents could not bear the associated costs.
“If the children of Ghana will really be the trustees of the country’s prosperity, then, there is the need for us to provide them quality and accessible healthcare. It means that society must create the suitable safety nets that are to provide the health needs of children as a basic right.”
Madam Abayage was sure that when the society, collectively, complemented the efforts of government and health service providers, the gaps in healthcare access would be bridged.
“It is for this reason that I wish to, on behalf of government, associate with the launch of the Needy Child Fund by the Regional Hospital.”
The Minister described as “worthy”, a gesture made by the Bank of Africa in renovating and furnishing the Paediatric Department with 50 beds last year, and called on other corporate agencies to rise to their social responsibilities.
Dr Patrick Atobrah, the Medical Director of the Hospital disclosed that in 2017, the hospital recorded 206 patients who could not settle their medical bills, and 38 out of the number were children, amounting to a sum of Gh¢46,000.00.
He said in 2018, 48 out of 149 patients who could not foot their medical bills were children, with a resultant cost of GH¢14,000.00 out of GH¢40,000.00, and in first half year of 2019, 34 out of 74 were children.
Dr Atobrah called on the community to support the hospital to deliver quality health care services, and urged health professionals in the facility to continue to exhibit high professional standards.
The programme, Chaired by Bonaba Salifu Atamale Alemyarum, the Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, attracted religious and traditional leaders, government and non-governmental organizations, philanthropists, health personnel among others.