Gabon’s National Health Insurance Outfit Refuses To Pay For Patients’ Drugs

CNAMGS, which is a national medical insurance fund, is refusing to pay for drugs prescribed for patients suffering from COVID-19.

The Gabonese Caisse National d’Assurance Maladie et de Garantie Sociale (CNAMGS), which is a national medical insurance fund, is refusing to pay for drugs prescribed for patients suffering from COVID-19. 

COVID-19 patients insured by CNAMGS who present prescriptions at pharmacies are being asked to pay from their private pockets.

“Since the beginning of the coronavirus health crisis, the CNAMGS has said it would not take charge of COVID-19 patients because the management of these patients is 100 per cent ensured by the Technical Commission for the Fight Against the Coronavirus in Gabon, COPIL,” said Dr Itou Y-Maganga.

 The Director-General of CNAMGS had by a service note dated May 4, 2020 informed all heads of public, military and private health structures that the Fund would not take charge of services and prescriptions linked to the COVID-19.

Citing the law regulating obligatory health insurance and social guarantee, the Director-General had recalled that “transfers resulting from epidemics declared by competent authorities are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health” adding that the CNAMGS would reject all demands to take charge of patients and bills linked to COVID-19.

“Patients and bills related to COVID-19 have to be addressed to the Technical Commission for the Fight Against the Coronavirus in Gabon,” the CNAMGS boss had made clear to the public.

However, the COPIL says that any decision as to the treatment reserved from COVID-19 patients insured by CNAMGS must be the subject of consultation between COPIL and CNAMGS.

One year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Gabon, no common ground seems to have been reached.

Speaking on the problem during a press conference on Tuesday, Dec. 28, Dr Guy-Patrick Obiang, Gabonese Minister of Health, underlined the fact that “the taking charge of Covid-19 patients has since been generalized with anti-Covid prescriptions henceforth possible both in clinics, private health facilities, and pharmacies.

“However, since these prescriptions are not made in agreed health centres, it is difficult for these persons to have free access to drugs against the Covid,” the Minister of Health declared, adding that “if COVID patients attend approved structures, they can have free drugs against COVID.”

By “approved structures”, the minister was referring to structures managed by COPIL such as the Angondje hospital, Gahouma Laboratory, and many others where COVID-19 patients receive free protocols adapted to their symptoms.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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