The Member of Parliament (MP) for Adentan Constituency, Hon Mohammed Adamu Ramadan has called on the government to consider granting tax waivers on medical consumables to hospital with Dialysis units in the country to reduce their financial burdens.
According to him, just as the government does for companies under the One District One Factory (1D1F), the same should be extended to public and private Renal Centres in hospitals country the country to be able to lessen their predicament.
Hon Ramadan was contributing to a statement made by the Ranking Member of Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh on the Korle-Bu Renal Centres Renal Unit in Accra.
“Mr Speaker, In contributing to the statement, I must say that what is happening at the Korle-Bu Renal Unit is becoming one too many. I think the government should take a look at the possible way of giving the hospital Renal Unit tax waivers in Dialysis consumables goods.The outstanding payment of GHS 4million should not be the issue for the OPD of the Korle-Bu Renal Unit to be closed down to public.
“Mr. Speaker, we sit in this house to approve many tax waivers to private companies,including foreign companies under the 1D1F. So I think the government should consider the possible way of granting tax waivers for indigenous companies and hospitals , both public and private that supply dialysis consumable goods,” he said.
The MP also urged the government to decapped the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) fund in order to support the Scheme financially to reduce discharge it’s duty effectively.
Below is Mr Akandoh Statement
STATEMENT BY HON. KWABENA MINTAH AKANDOH, MP FOR JUABOSO AND RANKING MEMBER ON THE PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH ON THE PROLONGED CLOSURE OF KORLE BU TEACHING HOSPITAL’S RENAL UNIT OUTPATIENT DEPARTMENT
Mr. Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to make this crucial statement on the floor of the House.
Mr. Speaker, Parliament as a whole should be deeply concerned about the persistent closure of the Renal Unit’s outpatient department at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. This situation has far-reaching implications for the well-being of dialysis patients in Ghana and raises serious questions about the commitment of government to transparency and accountability in our healthcare institutions.
The initial cause of the facility’s closure was attributed to a scarcity of essential medical consumables required for dialysis. When dialysis medical consumables were finally procured, the service saw an unprecedented increase in fees from GHS380 to GHS765.42.
Mr. Speaker, the Hospital’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) explained to the general public that this alarming price adjustment was a result of the government’s withdrawal of tax exemptions, leaving the hospital burdened with the full cost of importing vital medical consumables for dialysis, leading to unexpected financial strain. The hospital, therefore, had no option than to increase dialysis fees to cover part of the cost and render the service sustainable in the long run.
However, the subsequent statement by the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on Good Morning Ghana on the 28th of September 2023 contradicted the PRO’s explanation. According to the CEO, the tax exemptions were still in effect, but the hospital opted to pay the duties to expedite the clearing of these medical consumables and avoid incurring demurrage charges which may exceed the required duties. The long and short of this explanation is that the hospital incurred additional cost on medical consumables by paying duties either due to the withdrawal of tax waivers as said by the PRO or to expedite the delivery of essential medical consumables as reported by the CEO.
Mr. Speaker, as of now, there has been no official communication as to whether the duties paid to expedite the clearing of dialysis medical consumables have been refunded. But even more interesting is the fact that the hospital owes suppliers of dialysis consumables about GHS4.0 million, which is making it very difficult for the hospital to secure these consumables.
Mr. Speaker, GHS4.0 million cedis should not be the reason for which many Ghanaian men, women, and children are denied critical dialysis treatment. Whatever financial bottlenecks are warranting the continuous closure of the dialysis center should not be countenanced by the government, neither this house.
Mr. Speaker, other government hospitals continue to provide dialysis services at the old rate of GHS380, with some even offering the same service at a lower fee of GHS350. This glaring inconsistency raises serious concerns about the commitment of the government to resolving this issue. If, indeed, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital paid duties for dialysis medical consumables, and the government is unwilling to reimburse these costs, the situation demands immediate clarification and resolution.
Mr. Speaker, although government hospitals enjoy tax waivers on the import of dialysis medical consumables, private hospitals and clinics offering dialysis do not enjoy the same tax regimes. Patients seeking dialysis services out of Korle Bu are, therefore, confronted with high prices, some two or three times the fees they have to pay for dialysis at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
The Minister for Health in a meeting with a section of Minority MPs on the 13th of October assured that plans were far advanced to have the center reopened soon. Unfortunately, this “soon” seems to last longer than anticipated. The Minister understands that immediate action is required to alleviate the suffering and financial strain on dialysis patients; however, constraints to reopening the center may be coming from other avenues requiring the attention of this house. The reopening of the outpatient department cannot continue to remain in abeyance.
Mr. Speaker, Even more distressing is the statement from the Renal Patients Association to the effect that since the closure of the outpatient department of the renal unit in May this year, more than 19 outpatients have died. The tragic loss of life emphasizes the urgency of the matter and the necessity for immediate intervention. It is imperative that the Renal Unit’s outpatient department is promptly reopened, and the approved GHS380 fees are reinstated. Government must absorb, in the interest of dialysis patients, whatever the difference is above the GHS380. This will help alleviate the financial strain on patients and ensure their timely access to life-saving dialysis treatment.
I, therefore, call on this house, with your guidance, to call the Minister Responsible for Health to come to this house and clarify why the outpatient department of the Renal Unit of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital remains closed and what measures have been instituted to ensure that the facility is reopened as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker, I plead with this house to rally behind me in calling on government to consider absorbing the full cost of dialysis for Ghanaian patients or at the very least absorb whatever is the difference between the GHS380. This will help alleviate the financial strain on patients and ensure their timely access to life-saving dialysis treatment.
Mr Speaker, the Minister of Health and the hospital’s administration must as a matter of priority address this situation. The denial of essential healthcare services is a severe violation of patients’ rights and a breach of public trust. We implore the government to work diligently with the hospital to rectify this situation and uphold its commitment to providing accessible and affordable healthcare services to all citizens.
The paramount objective must be the prompt reopening of the Renal Unit’s outpatient department and the provision of essential subsidies to ensure that healthcare services are accessible and affordable for all citizens.
Mr. Speaker, I pray that this house will, as a matter of urgency, demand a swift, transparent, and equitable resolution to this issue that offers relief to the patients who have endured this ordeal and renews faith in our healthcare institutions.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.