By Amie Sanneh
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare together with its partners will this month (August) conduct a National Health Account Survey in the country. This exercise is expected to cover the 2015 financial year. The aim of the exercise according to officials is to know how much government, institutions and individuals spend on health.
As part of the activity, the health ministry yesterday, 23 August, 2016, organized a press briefing to sensitise the media for onward transmission to the populace.
Gibril Jarjue, Deputy Director, Planning and Information under the health ministry said health care systems in all countries including the Gambia are evolving in response to dynamics in demographic and current technological changes. He said tracking health care financing becomes more important as a lot has been spent on health care from private, individuals, donors, government. “… but what still remained unanswered is how much do we spend on health,” he questioned. According to him, WHO developed a system of health account to be able to track expenditure based on preventive, curative or rehabilitative. The aim of which is to describe the health care system from an expenditure perspective for both national and international purposes, he added. “Research has shown that over the past two decades more than hundred low and middle income countries 25 of them from Africa conducted national health accounts estimation that generates evidence for country level policy decision making including the Gambia. The tracking of actual spending provides a true picture of health care financing in the country,” explains Jarjue. He added that the Gambia conducted its first national health account in 2007, covering the year 2002, 2003 and 2004 key findings of which largely informs the drafting of the first ever health financing policy which is awaiting cabinet approval for implementation. The second one, he said was conducted in 2014 covering 2013 financial year. This year’s survey he said, “will target donors, UN Systems, embassies, NGOs, Insurance companies, Banks, hotels, media, individuals and government to know how much has been spent in 2015”. He assured respondents that the information they provide will be treated in confidentiality.
The Director of Health Promotion and Education Modou Njai said questionnaires will be sent to institutions for them to indicate how much they spend on health either on their staff or other areas of health care. This Njie went on will help them to know the actual expenditure on health in their various issues. This, he said is the first time they are organizing a press briefing on NHA to raise awareness on this event. He described it as important for people to know about it. He said at the end of the survey, they will call back the media to share the findings with them.