Monday, October 3

National Health Insurance Scheme attracts mixed feelings

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The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) introduced by The Gambia government through the Ministry of Health has been embraced by some Gambians with mixed feelings, as many remain pessimistic and are in doubt over the possible roll out of the newly introduced programme by government.
The NHIS was unveiled by the president around the end of the year 2021. It was one of Barrow’s 2021 presidential election campaign issues – a development he said would be in line with his government’s bid to enhance access to health care in The Gambia amidst growing concerns of poor healthcare delivery across the country.

However, many believe that the government should first concentrate on equipping public health facilities and hospitals with medicines, machinery and other much needed equipment such as medical gloves.

Speaking with The Point, one Alagie Ceesay said: “I already have my card. I have registered, but I am not hopeful anything will change. As a matter of fact, many people now don’t go to public hospitals. They either go to private clinics or pharmacies, because all that the public hospitals have is paracetamol.

“So even if we are insured, when you go to the hospitals, you can’t get all the needed medication. They will just give you paracetamol and ask you to buy the rest.”

“I don’t understand how this will change anything. Maybe it would, but I don’t think so,” Bintou Camara said.

“If this national health insurance is in place without equipping our health facilities, I don’t think it would change anything,” she added.

Due to the poor health system in the country, Essa Faal, former defence counsel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and TRRC lead counsel, a few months ago described The Gambia health system as a “death trap.”

“The medical or the health care service in this country is a death trap. You go to these hospitals with a headache, you come out in a stretcher. That is how bad it is. We are all victims. People are dying because there are no gloves or rudimentary facilities to carry out basic procedures to help them,” he noted.

During his presidential campaign, Faal also questioned why the hospitals in the country should just be giving paracetamol to patients no matter the illness. He thus also hinted the need for healthcare facilities to be equipped.

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