Expert Weighs In on Oxfam's Ghana Health Insurance Report

A report published recently by an international aid organization and its partners criticizing Ghana’s health insurance system and calling for its elimination fails to take into account the impact of health insurance on the lives of people in the African country and other developing nations, a senior official at a U.S.-based think tank argues.

>> Oxfam, Local NGOs Slam Ghana’s Health Insurance System

It is disappointing to “see an international NGO judging a developing country government’s efforts to provide health care and financial protection to its population in such pejorative and unscientific terms. It is seriously irresponsible to advise a government to destroy a functioning and apparently well-performing health system,” Amanda Glassman, research fellow and head of global health policy at the Center for Global Development, says.

Glassman argues that Oxfam failed to consider existing reports and impact evaluation studies on the benefits of health insurance for people in developing countries. She cites an impact evaluation done in 2010 by a York University professor which found that women with health insurance “are much more likely to give birth in a hospital, be attended by a trained professional at birth, receive pre-natal care, experience fewer birth complications and fewer infant deaths.”

“Based on the data and evaluation available, I would advise the government of Ghana to enroll a greater proportion of its poor into the insurance scheme. I would certainly not advise the dissolution of the insurance scheme,” Glassman says.

She argues no system is perfect. She adds that, if Ghana lacks enough local resources or donor support to provide health insurance for all its citizens, the country should modify the scope of the insurance plans it offers.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.