Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), says the scheme is committed to ensuring financial access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians.
He gave the assurance at the Informal Engagement with Health Correspondents in Kaduna.
The executive secretary said with the institutionalization of the three-point rebranding agenda and engagement of critical stakeholders including the media, the scheme would achieve its mandate of ensuring quality healthcare.
He listed value reorientation; transparency and accountability, and accelerating the drive of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as the three points branding agenda of the scheme.
He said that “moving on, the scheme would leverage on pushing for legislation for mandatory health insurance, implementing robust interoperable ICT platform and increased political support at all levels of government.
“We would also work for sustainable innovative financing, increase our strategic investments, increase private sector participation, as well as evolve strategic stakeholder engagements and partnerships.”
Sambo said the scheme had been having stakeholder’s engagements to achieve the rebranding reform, adding that the scheme had engaged enrollees, development partners, drug manufacturers Health Maintenance Organisation (HMOs) and editors, among others.
The executive secretary, who emphasised the need for health insurance to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure, noted that there was a link between ill health and poverty.
According to him, one in 10 Nigerians (more than 82.9 million) is living in poverty (National Bureau of Statistics 2019), while World Bank says 92.6 million Nigerians will be living in poverty by 2022.
“Poverty limits access to healthcare and ill-health worsens poverty so there is vicious cycle between ill health and poverty.
“The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 says only three per cent (six million) of over 200 million Nigerians have health insurance.
“Health insurance is anchored on risk pooling and resource pooling, health insurance is contributory not free because people are contributing to the pool.’’
He also told newsmen that the review of the NHIS Act would enable the scheme to enroll more Nigerians, especially the informal sector.
“The current decree is undergoing amendment because health insurance is not mandatory; when it is amended, it will be easy for NHIS to make agencies do health insurance programmes.
“When the Act was passed, it did not envisage the establishment of state health insurance agencies and the amended law had clearly brought them into the document.
“It clearly defines their role and many other things that can help to improve health insurance in the country,’’ he said.
Sambo also told the journalists that under the UHC matrix, the scheme had been able to map all Nigerians, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
“NYSC is added in the framework of NHIS; it is a presidential directive that they should be covered but we have gone far in the discussion to implement the directive.
“We have gone far in the discussion among the NHIS, NYSC, Budget office and Ministry of Health to ensure the release of funds that will cover the programmes.” (NAN)