The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has demanded for immediate investigation and probe of the Health Management Organisation (HMO) recently involved in an alleged missing N90 million fund, saying that the issue should not be swept under the carpet.
It also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to free the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) because of its importance and urgency required in terms of need.
President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said this when the Chief Executive Secretary, (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, held a crucial meeting with the leadership of the congress on how to ensure effective operations of the scheme.
At the meeting held in Labour House, Abuja, Wabba said the issue of the missing money should be looked into; and advised the NHIS leadership to invite the EFCC to investigate the matter.
The NLC President said “The issue of community health insurance should be given serious consideration. It also needs to be strengthened, because communities need to be carried along.
“We are aware of the issue of misappropriation by the Health Management Organisation (HMO) meant to provide service. We are aware of that. I don’t want the issue to be swept under the carpet. We are aware that about N90million is involved. We urge you to forward this issue to the agencies that are saddled with the responsibility of handling investigation, especially the EFCC to serve as a deterrent.”
Comrade Wabba said the NLC will immediately write President Buhari to free the scheme from the TSA syndrome, adding, “We are also going to write to Mr President to free the NHIS from TSA, because this is a specialised fund meant to provide service to workers in terms of need. Therefore, it should not involve administrative process. There is usually no sickness that is predetermined.”
He told the NHIS board that the NLC was a foundation member of the NHIS, adding that he had also served on the board of the scheme.
The mandate of the scheme, according to him is to provide health coverage to the entire Nigerian citizens.
“Because of the way the scheme is structured, workers agreed to part way with the 10 per cent of their medical allowance to drive the scheme. People think the money generated for the scheme is free money, but it is not; it is from the working people of Nigeria.
“You have been appointed to sanitise the system. A lot of process has to be put in place to sanitise what has been undone. At a time I even have a cause to write to Mr President about the sleeze going on, the funds are from contributors. We expect an expanded scope of coverage.
“I assure you that NLC will partner with you towards strengthening the scheme towards universal coverage where every citizen of Nigeria will be covered by this scheme. The public service workers, who are the guinea-pigs, would expect also that their package will continue to improve as the funds of the scheme get improved.
“The package that the ordinary worker would be able to access. It must be able to expand to cover new areas of diseases like cancer and other communicable diseases. We have written against using the funds to fund the building of private care centres because that is not the mandate of the NHIS. We are still on our position that those funds should be applied in line with the provision of the law. Any attempt to try to divert the funds, will be highly resisted,” Wabba said.
In his comment, the NHIS Executive Director, Professor Yakubu said he had begun the process of re-engineering the scheme to achieve wider coverage.
Yakubu, who agreed that the scheme is not where it ought to be, assured the people of his determination to broaden its scope to enable more Nigerians benefit from health insurance.
While noting that seven states had already adopted state health insurance, he called on the remaining states to key in into the programme for the benefits of the people.