People with autoimmune and neurological diseases have asked government to give clear guidelines about how they can benefit from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
At a forum that gave them a platform to share their experiences, sufferers of these conditions said it was difficult getting the right diagnosis early, which resulted in high medical bills.
Autoimmune diseases are diseases, which cause the antibodies in humans to attack the cells instead of fighting external diseases. Autoimmune diseases often cause disability in the sufferer.
The forum was organized by Sharecare Ghana, a civil society organization that acts as a support group for people with neuro-immunological diseases in Ghana.
Dr. Augustina Charway, a neurologist at the 37 Military Hospital, explained to the patients that the first step to getting the right treatment is for a primary health care giver or a General Practitioner in any hospital to refer the patient to a neurologist.
“However, there is very little awareness about autoimmune diseases and sometimes primary health care givers are not able to identify the disease over a long period of time,” she added.
Dr. Charway advised people to visit the hospital whenever they feel unexplained numbness or weakness in any part of their body and said that the actual cause of autoimmune diseases has not been found but some could be hereditary.
Some members of Sharecare Ghana pointed out that the real difficulty for them was how to get the right doctors and early diagnosis.They therefore urged government to pay attention to such diseases under the NHIS.
Mr. Duut Abdulai, Executive Secretary of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, added his voice to the call for government to pay attention to people with disabilities.
He said when issues of disability are mainstreamed into the development programmes of the country it facilitates development.
Nana Yaa Agyeman, Coordinator of Sharecare Ghana, said the organization is registering members, who are unable to work with the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme to enable them earn something to support themselves. The LEAP is a poverty reduction programme by government.
She said the organization would continue to lobby for the National Health Insurance Scheme in Ghana to cover all diseases.
Miss Mimi Areme, Miss Ghana 2009, who also attended the meeting, said she would embark on an educational campaign to encourage the showing of care and love to the disabled.
One of her projects is to advocate for people with autoimmune and neurological diseases.
Ghana News Agency
30 Jan. 10