Sylvester Mensah, Former Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)

Former Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Sylvester Mensah, is calling for total lockdown of the country.

According to him, the spike in the cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country, demands stringent measures to ensure the state has total control of the situation.

He argued that a total lockdown for two weeks is essential to allow for effective stay-at-home protocol to ensure those infected are properly quarantined for contract tracing to be vigorously pursued on a wider scale.

Speaking on Ahotor 92.3 Fm, Mr. Mensah popularly known as Sly argued that the current piecemeal approach is compromising the entire effort, stressing that Ghana’s entire COVID-19 fight will do little to halt its spread.

He said, “It is worrying if you look at the numbers across the regions. We need to seriously look at this thing.”

He warned that government needs to swallow the bitter bill and noted that Ghanaians will understand that such action is necessary to maintain lives and survive the pandemic.

He warned that the bit by bit approach and the indecision of government will only create more danger for the country stressing, “We need to look at the more critical approach towards a containment strategy.”

Sly also lamented the failure of the government to settle arrears of National Health Service to health facilities, even in the midst of calls for more sacrifice from these facilities and frontline health workers.

He noted that incentives announced for frontline workers is very laudable but stressed the fundamental matter is that most of the facilities being used in the Coronavirus fight are facilities government is owing.

“We need to make sure all health facilities across the country have been paid. Some of these facilities have not even been able to pay their workers for months because of government failure to pay their health bills through the NHIS.”

“The average indebtedness across the country is nine months but we have funds for supporting small businesses. We cannot rule out health facilities because they are at the centre of this all. We need to come clean of some of these,” he stated.

He argued that lots of the funds that have been earmarked for other activities should rather be channeled to the health sector because it is important these facilities are paid all their arrears to date.

That, he said, would be palpable motivation for the healthcare workers.

“It is unacceptable that at this critical time we have arrears to health facilities across the country. This is unacceptable and government must show more commitment by clearing these arrears.”

“We have had all the politics in the past about the health insurance. We have heard government claiming to have cleared arrears of GH¢1.2 billion, meanwhile new money has not been introduced into the system. Any information to that regard is a lie,” he stated.

The former boss of the NHIA expressed displeasure at the government’s failure to make overtures to other political parties to nominate their representatives to form parts of the committees composed to fight the virus.

According to him, the situation where government has consciously excluded the technical representatives of other political parties in the committees denies the state of a truly national approach to the effort.

“Everything appears government, government and government. Of course we have elected the government into power but that does not mean government is the repository of wisdom and other political parties have nothing to contribute,” he noted.

He argued that the President inviting representatives of political partie for a discussion on the matter was not adequate because these technical representatives should form part of the committees.