Former president John Dramani Mahama has called on the government to as a matter of urgency scrap import charges and taxes on medication and kits for dialysis services to bring relief to the elderly.
His comment was on the back of a 100 percent increase in the cost of dialysis treatment by the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital last week.
According to the hospital, the action was premised on the government’s removal of tax and import duty exemptions on medical consumables.
Former President John Dramani Mahama
The hospital explained that should it continue to charge the old fees, it would have to shut down the dialysis centre in a matter of days as the funds will not be enough to support quality healthcare delivery there.
Speaking at an event to mark this year’s UN International Day for the Aged, John Mahama said the government cannot be insensitive by passing the country’s economic challenges to people who depend on such critical services to survive.
“Just this week there was an uproar when the nation’s premier teaching hospital, Korle Bu announced an increase in charges for dialysis treatment by 100%. This was threatening to put the cost of dialysis treatment out of the reach of many patients and their families.
“The explanation I’ve read from the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital cites the increase in taxes and duties on materials for dialysis treatment as the main reason for their decision to hike the price by 100%. As an immediate measure, I call on the government to exempt medication and kits for dialysis treatment from taxes and duties to maintain this critical lifeline for patients whose survival depends on this treatment,” he said.
“Amidst the current economic crisis and a difficult period for many Ghanaians with worsening hardship, high cost of living, collapsing businesses and unemployment, the government should not be insensitive by passing on catastrophic healthcare cost onto the people with life threatening diseases especially the elderly because this is akin to condemning them to a death sentence,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh has described the new fees as an illegality.
According to him, the hospital ought to have consulted parliament for approval of fees before releasing the new costs.
Korle Bu has since apologized for the error their premature action had caused; and assured patients that till parliament approves the new charges the old charges are in force.
However, some patients who had recently visited the hospital have claimed that the new fees are still being charged.