INTRODUCTION: The National Health Insurance Act, 2003 (Act 650) established the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in Ghana with the aim of increasing access to health care and improving the quality of basic health care services for all citizens. The main objective is to assess the effect of health insurance on the quality of case management for patients with uncomplicated malaria, ascertaining any significant differences in treatment between insured and non-insured patients. METHOD: A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 523 respondents diagnosed with malaria and prescribed malaria drugs from public and private health facilities in 3 districts across Ghana's three ecological zones. Collected information included initial examinations performed on patients (temperature, weight, age, blood pressure and pulse); observations of malaria symptoms by trained staff, laboratory tests conducted and type of drugs prescribed. Insurance status of patients, age, gender, education level and occupation were asked in the interviews. RESULTS: Of the 523 patients interviewed, only 40 (8%) were uninsured. Routine recording of the patients' age, weight, and temperature was high in all the facilities. In general, assessments needed to identify suspected malaria were low in all the facilities with hot body/fever and headache ranking the highest and convulsion ranking the lowest. Parasitological assessments in all the facilities were also very low. All patients interviewed were prescribed ACTs which is in adherence to the drug of choice for malaria treatment in Ghana. However, there were no significant differences in the quality of malaria treatment given to the uninsured and insured patients. CONCLUSION: Adherence to the standard protocol of malaria treatment is low. This is especially the case for parasitological confirmation of all suspected malaria patients before treatment with an antimalarial as currently recommended for the effective management of malaria in the country. The results show that about 16 percent of total sample were parasitologically tested. Effective management of the disease demands proper diagnosis and treatment and therefore facilities need to be adequately supplied with RDTs or be equipped with well functioning laboratories to provide adequate testing.
International Journal for Equity in Health, 2014, Vol 13, Issue 63
Journal Article; Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Antimalarials; Attitude of Health Personnel; Case Management; Child; Child, Preschool; Female; Ghana; Guideline Adherence; Humans; Insurance, Health; Malaria; Male; Medically Uninsured; Middle Aged; Patient Satisfaction; Quality of Health Care; Socioeconomic Factors; Surveys and Questionnaires; Young Adult