- Existing government facilities are overstretched and the no-bed syndrome is rife in our major health facilities.
Written By Dr Kwaku Yeboah Kese - Health care delivery in the country will greatly improve if abandoned and uncompleted public health facilities are given to the private sector to operate in the spirit of public-private collaboration.
There are many abandoned and uncompleted health facilities scattered across the length and breadth of the country. In addition the government can build clinics for private practice on what can become occupy, operate and pay (OOP) basis.
One of the reasons why private health care is expensive is the high cost of building or renting a facility for private practice, not to mention the high cost of equipment and other material resources needed for effective service delivery.
Making buildings available for private practice will greatly reduce cost of operation and make services affordable.
This will not be a new development.
For example governments have supported a number of private organisations, including the private road transport unions, with buses whose cost can be as high as that of a small building which can be used as a clinic.
Other small scale businesses have also been supported with huge, almost interest free loans. If such facility is extended to support private practice, health care in the country will be greatly enhanced.
Health is an essential service and it is the duty of the government to ensure that every citizen gets access to unhindered health services.
The fact that there are no public health facilities in every part of the country means that the government alone cannot do it all thus making contribution from the private sector not only significant but indispensable.
Existing government facilities are overstretched and the no-bed syndrome is rife in our major health facilities.
The fact that such an arrangement can bring about efficient and affordable health services cannot be overemphasised.
That the private sector is more efficient when it comes to the judicious use of resources is never in dispute.
I have always made my argument from the fact that there are a lot of private health facilities that are hooked onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Considering the fact that about 80- 90 per cent of their patients may be NHIS card holders, it can be inferred that their revenue and charges are, to a large extent, determined by the NHIS. This means that their cash inflows may be comparable to that of any public health facility of the same magnitude .
Yet these private health facilities are able to pay for their staff salaries, pay for utilities, maintain official buildings and equipment and still remain competitive.
Benefits to be derived from this arrangement are enormous. As already stated, health care and accessibility will greatly improve, and services will be more efficient.
Health care in the country can be expanded to reach areas where it is lacking.
The private person will not normally invest in putting up or renting a building for private practice in remote areas where he or she perceives patronage will not be satisfactory. But with OOP in place, a lot of people may accept the challenge.
Unemployment in the health sector will reduce and government will not have the overall burden of employing newly qualified health staff and, thus, will have the peace of mind to concentrate on other sectors of the economy.