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Working together to save children’s lives in Ghana

Children with cancer in Ghana will now get the cost of their cancer treatment covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme, following an evidence-based process led by the Ministry of Health in Ghana and supported by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

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African girl. Copyright: Colourbox.com

Children with cancer in Ghana will now get the cost of their cancer treatment covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme, following an evidence-based process led by the Ministry of Health in Ghana and supported by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).


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With funding from Norad, the NIPH has worked with the Ministry of Health and the University of Ghana to improve evidence-based decision-making practices in the healthcare system. Already in 2019, the Ghanaian government committed to use ‘Health Technology Assessment’ (HTA) processes to determine the value of health technologies and set priorities.

Researchers at NIPH have supported the development of an HTA on childhood cancers by co-hosting stakeholder meetings and co-producing assessments to understand effectiveness reimbursing treatment.

Childhood cancer

Every year, over a thousand children develop cancer in Ghana. Most childhood cancers are curable when detected early and progressively treated. Unfortunately, over half of all young patients in Ghana must abandon their treatment and may die because their family cannot afford it...

In November last year, treatments for the four main childhood cancers - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Burkitt Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma and Wilms Tumor - were included in the National Health Insurance Scheme in Ghana. These four constitute approximately 60% of all childhood cancers.

Not only will this save many lives, it also shows the results of long-term collaboration to strengthen capacity as the world works towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

From evidence to decisions

At a meeting in Ghana recently, Lumbwe Chola, Senior Adviser from the NIPH explained the significance of the collaboration:

“This is an important achievement, showing that Norwegian funding can contribute to strengthening the health system in Ghana through evidence-based decision-making. In particular, this work will have implications for saving the lives of children and hopefully prevent their families from having to foot the bill."

Norad’s representative, Ingvar Theo Olsen, said:

“The new implementation of childhood cancer treatment coverage can have a direct positive impact on children’s lives in Ghana. The new scheme can reduce mortality and alleviate the huge economic burden on families with cancer patients. This is an excellent example of the effect of Norwegian aid on capacity strengthening and saving lives.”

The work is part of the new Norad-funded program at the NIPH – “Building Stronger Public Health Institutions and Systems”(BIS). BIS aims to contribute to building competent and resilient health systems underpinned by strong public health institutions in six countries, among others Ghana, and global and regional networks