About 4,000 basket weavers in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region have received support from two basket marketing organizations to either register or renew their membership cards with National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The organizations, which paid for the Insurance to help the weavers to access quality health included African Market Baskets, Oversees Connection of United States of America (USA) and the Paku Enterprise Ghana.
The organizations further donated educational supplies including books, pens, pencils and erasers among others to some basic schools in some of the selected communities in the Municipality.
The beneficiary communities are Sokabisi, Zorbisi, Sherigu, Zaare, Sumbrungu, Nyariga and Yikene communities.
In the last 19 years, the organizations have empowered weavers in these communities in basket weaving and development to enable them produce quality and standard baskets for export to the United States of America.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Bolgatanga on Tuesday, during the registration of the beneficiaries, Mr Steven Karowe, the President of the African Market Baskets, Overseas Connection, said last year, the organizations also registered and renewed the NHIS membership cards of the same number of women basket weavers, including their families.
He said apart from the yearly registration and renewal of cards for the basket weavers and the vulnerable groups in the communities onto the NHIS, the organizations also built weaving centres in some of the communities to train the weavers as well as provide them with ready market.
Mr Karowe said his outfit in partnership with the two organizations spent more than GH¢50,000.00 last year and this year to register the people onto the NHIS and procured and distributed mosquito nets to the selected communities as part of the organizations’ corporate social responsibility.
They also spent about GH¢10,000.00 to provide educational materials for some basic schools in the beneficiaries communities, he added.
Mr Paul Akurugu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Paku Enterprise Ghana, underscored the need for the government to pay special attention to the growth of the basket weaving industry since it had a huge potential of creating employment, reducing poverty and generating foreign exchange for the country.
He appealed to the government to support the basket industry by ensuring that the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) disbursed funding to support the growth of the industry.
Mr Sebastian Alagpulinsa, the Regional Manager of the National Health Insurance Scheme, thanked the three organizations for complementing the efforts of the scheme, and said it would help enhance its work.
The chiefs and people of the beneficiary communities, particularly the women groups, lauded the efforts of the organizations for improving upon the livelihoods of the community members.
Mrs Ayishetu Shirazu Asueme, the Headmistress of Azaalonge Junior High and Primary Schools, who acknowledged the contributions of the organizations to the school, appealed for more support in the areas of furnishing the school’s library and ICT centre with books and computers.