The exemptions for the aged: the case of Sekyere - East District

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The rapidly increasing population poses a challenge to the health services that must expand to keep up with the population growth. Health services are financed through private, public and donor funds. Public financing comes from government consolidated funds. Recognising the inability of governments alone to finance health services, cost sharing mechanisms are increasingly being explored and the Ghana Government is doing same. User charges were introduced sixteen years ago and other financing mechanisms such as the health insurance scheme are being explored. Vulnerable groups like children, paupers and the elderly in Ghana have fewer resources and do not benefit proportionately from user charges. In view of this an exemption policy had been introduced to provide access to health services to the vulnerable groups in the society. This requires knowing how implementers understand and interpret the policy to let beneficiaries enjoy the exemption policy. The study sought to assess the extent to which exemption and waivers protect the aged, and the impact it has had on their health seeking behaviour in the Sekyere — East District. The study design was retrospective cross — sectional, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods. The sample size was 95, comprising 84 aged and 11 health care providers. Results from the study indicate increases in attendance over the years. However, because beneficiaries have to buy their own drugs most of the time, majority of them are not satisfied with the services given at the facilities. Moreover, the level of awareness of the policy among both clients and health providers is high but the details are known to only a few of them. Recommendations are made to the health managers to intensify education on the details of the policy and also provide quality health care services. The Government should also have to give absolute exemption to the aged because at that stage their health problems are many and chronic.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Community Health, School of Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of in Health Services Planning and Management, 2003