There is a high prevalence rate of self-medication among Ghanaians because of the high cost of accessing quality healthcare from health facilities, Mr Samuel Boakye Donkor, the Vice President, Private Health Facilities Association of Ghana, said on Thursday.
He noted that the government, through the National Health Insurance Scheme, often delayed the payment of claims to service providers under the Scheme, which made the private health facilities charge patients or clients before rendering services.
In view of that, those who could not afford the payment of the high bills, coupled with the stress involved, stay at home and resort to self-medication which eventually worsens their conditions.
Mr Donkor said this in his contribution to a penal discussion organised alongside the ongoing West Africa Pharma and Healthcare Exhibition in Accra, on the topic: “Healthcare Industry in Africa and Access to Finance”.
He bemoaned the lack of access to finance to run private health facilities because most banks were not ready to offer loans to them in view of the perceived high risks in lending to private institutions.
“Nobody wants to lend us money because of the risks but we need to buy new medical equipment, buy medicines, pay our workers, pay taxes and VAT and so on, so how do we run our facilities?” he queried.
Mr Donkor also lamented the outmoded and rigid laws in the health sector that hindered operations in the sector and the quality of services rendered.
He cited, for instance, a law that says: “If a medical doctor in a private health facility is taking care of a patient and the cost of the care or service being rendered is too high and can’t be paid by the patient, the doctor has to refer the patient to a public health facility….and so if there is no public health facility around the area, should the person die?”…he asked, rhetorically.
Mr Daniel Appiah, the Head of Business and SMEs Financing at the CalBank, said most health facilities in the country were not well prepared in terms of finances in running their facilities.
“There are poor accounting practices, no well-defined structure for running the health facility,” he said.
“Most of the time, the CEO of the Founder of the facility is acting as the accountant, marketing officer, procurement officer, and there is no successive plan over the ownership of the institution.”
He was of the belief that with a well-structured governance system in place, it would be easier for the banks or financial institutions to offer loans to the health facility.
Mr Appiah said although the banks had allocated funds for supporting private health institutions, all applicants were supposed to meet the requirements, which most of them failed.
He called for well-structured governance structures, business plans and successive plans on ownership to enable the facilities to get financial support from the banks.
Mr Thomas James, the Project Director of the West Africa Pharma and Healthcare Exhibition, said in every gap or challenge, there were opportunities to make a profit and support humanity, and urged the pharmaceutical companies, exhibitors and participants, to take advantage of any challenge and make society a better place.