In strengthening his human right advocacy in society, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina Constituency in the Greater Accra Region, Hon Francis Xavier Sosu, has proposed four new Bills in Parliament to secure greater social protection, health, and economic well-being of the most vulnerable in the country.
The Bills include the Employment of Persons with Disability Bill 2022 and the National Health Insurance (Amendment) Bills, 2022.
The Bills seek to introduce a regime to ensure five percent (5%) minimum employment of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in all public and private sector Institutions in Ghana,
When passed into law, the Bills would provide for related matters to ensure that persons suffering from mental health disorders receive free treatment for various health care needs that covered valid NHIS Card.
In addition, the Bills provide for free cancer and tumour treatment for children holding valid NHIS cards in all public and private hospitals with requisite expertise and experience to deal with such conditions, provide for related matters; and ensure the cost of issuing Medical Forms to victims of sexual violations and domestic violence shall be included in the National Health Insurance Service List agreed to by the National Health Authority in collaboration with Health Care providers under Section 34 (1) of Act 852.
For the Employment of PWDs Bill, considering that Ghana’s population is 31,072,940 according to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), with a total workforce of about 13,400,000 persons as of 2022, representing 43.12%, a total of 1,149,699 persons constitutes PWDs representing 3.7% of the total workforce. As such, this Bill would ensure that some 670,000 persons out of the current labour force would be constituted by PWDs out of a possible 57,485 persons; consistent with best practices in other jurisdictions, particularly in countries in Europe such as France (6%), Argentina (4%), Brazil (2%), Germany (5%), Spain (2%), Czech Republic (4%), Chile (1%), and Romania (4%), among others.
Also, with an estimated 3.1million Ghanaians representing 10 percent of the estimated 31million population of Ghana, having one form of mental disorder or another, with 16,000 having severe cases, coupled with the increasing burden of mental ill health, with serious consequences for the country’s economic and social development, as well as the health and wellbeing of Ghanaians, the proposal for amendment of the NHI Act 2012 (Act 852) seeks to ensure that persons suffering from mental health disorder would receive free treatment for various health care needs which shall be covered by a valid NHIS Card.
Similarly, statistics from the Accra Regional Office of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service show that, as of August 2020, 31.9% of Ghanaian women had faced at least one form of domestic violence – physical, economic, psychological, social or sexual; with over 38% of girls aged 15-19 years, reported having experienced at least one act of sexual violence.
This shows that an average of 1362 defilement cases was recorded between 2017 and 2020, as against 424 cases of rape. Furthermore, an analysis of police crime statistics by the African Institute for Crime, Policy and Governance Research has revealed low rates of criminal prosecution in Ghana, showing that between 2012 and 2019, with the exception of 2015, less than 20% of criminal cases were prosecuted in any given year.
The proposed amendment to the NHI Act, therefore, seeks to ensure that victims of sexual offences such as rape and defilement as well as victims of domestic violence would not only receive free treatment but that the cost of issuing Medical Forms for the purposes of Police Investigation and prosecution shall be also covered by a valid NHIS Card.
It is further observed that, despite efforts by the Government to provide assistance to children through coverage of the diagnosis and treatment of four childhood cancers, namely Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Burkitt Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma, and Wilms Tumour, which constitute approximately 60 percent of all childhood cancers and are highly curable if detected early, there is no currently no legislation to back such efforts.
In that view, the proposed amendment of the NHI Act 2012 (Act 852) is to absorb the cost of treatment of children suffering from cancer and tumour, and ensure that such costs are included in the National Health Insurance Service List.
This brings to nine (9) the total number of Private Member’s Bills initiated by the Hon. Member of Parliament for Madina, Hon. Francis Xavier Sosu – the most by any member of Parliament in the 8th Parliament and the Fourth Republic.
It would be recalled that the Hon MP had earlier introduced Bills to substitute life imprisonment for the death penalty, with amendments to the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) and Armed Forces Act 1962 (Act 105); to ensure the provision of compensation for wrongful arrest, detention, prosecution, and incarceration; proscribe the declaration of witchcraft accusations and prohibit the practice of witch doctors or finders; and amend the Legal Professions Act, 1960 (Act 32) to review legal education and redefine the functions of the General Legal Council (GLC).
The MP has since laid similar amendment Bills that sought to abolish the Death Penalty offence, the amendment of the Ghana Armed Forces Act, and other related criminal acts.
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