Former MP for Builsa North constituency, Timothy Ataboadey Awotiirim

Former Member of Parliament for Builsa North constituency, Timothy Ataboadey Awotiirim has asked the National Health Insurance Scheme if a fund could be created for people with kidney failure.

The fund, he said, can help support and cater for the dialysis expenses the patients would have to cover so as to ease their financial burden.

The former MP spoke on Joy Prime’s Prime Morning show on Tuesday while discussing the six-month free dialysis support programme initiated by the NHIS.

“Can we set up a fund? Can we put just 20 pesewas on most of these our fuels and all those taxes that we do to support them, like they’re doing for the cardiothoracic centre? I’ve seen a businessman who makes water and says that when you buy it, this amount goes there. Are we so bereft of ideas that we cannot do this? Interestingly, this kidney disease, no matter how rich you are, can really eat into your resources and frustrate you.”

Additionally, he opined that the whole populace has the capacity to assist such patients rather than sitting on the fence and allowing the NHIS finances to go to waste.

The comments come after the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) announced the commencement of a six-month free dialysis support programme for renal patients from June to December 2024.

The decision follows weeks of JoyNews’ Dialysis Crisis Series, which culminated in a national dialogue on the matter with stories tracking the promises made by various officials and stakeholders.

According to Mr. Awontirim, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has captured the policy in their campaign manifesto, which is in the pipeline to be launched soon.

“You’ll see the details in all those areas. There will be special funds allocated to them permanently. It won’t cost us anything like we’ve done for GetFund and other institutions,” he assured.

The former MP trusts that Ghanaian citizens will voluntarily contribute to support such an initiative to help prolong the lives of their loved ones and others after watching the touching and emotional stories of victims. He believes that Ghana is capable of setting up the fund, considering how heartbreaking the stories are.

“If it is GH₵ 1.00 for 10 million Ghanaians, that will be GH₵ 10 million a month. Even kids who are in school will tell their parents to donate their GH₵ 5.00 they’re being given to take to school to the fund because a lot of them get worried when they watch the videos.”

Meanwhile, the support, as explained in a statement released by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) dated June 1, noted that beneficiaries of the dialysis programme have been divided into two categories: vulnerable groups [patients aged below 18 and above 60] and persons aged 18 to 59 years.

According to the Scheme, “patients under 18 and above 60 years old will receive all eight free dialysis sessions per month,” with a cumulative cost estimated to be approximately GH₵ 2.3 million.

It added that “patients from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH), Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital (EFRH), Ho Teaching Hospital (HTH), and Tamale Teaching Hospital will receive two dialysis sessions per month at GH₵ 982.00, that is, GH₵ 491 per session.”

While some people think it is an election stance for the NPP, others believe the programme will be of great benefit and help save the lives of the renal patients.