Nigeria must work at double speed to attain UHC — Sambo

•FG set to recruit 50,000 health extension workers

THE Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Mohammed Nasir Sambo, has emphasised that Nigeria is under a pressing need to work at double-speed to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in accordance with the global agenda of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

But in realisation of this challenge, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government will recruit 50,000 health extension workers who will be deployed to public health facilities.

He pointed out that the recruitment was part of Federal Government targets to ensure healthcare delivery to Nigerians in 2019/2020; while the government is also striving to make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians.

Both the minister and the executive secretary spoke during a three-day strategic retreat on: “Health insurance under one roof organised by the NHIS at Goshen Centre, Nasarawa State.

The retreat is to bring together the chief executives of the State Social Health Insurance Agencies (SSHIAs), as well as members of the development community.

In his address, the NHIS Executive Secretary said “It is obvious that Nigeria is under a pressing need to work at double-speed towards the objective of attaining Universal Health Coverage in the country, in accordance with the global agenda of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“This is consistent with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to rapidly unlock the potential of Nigeria’s human capital towards improved socio-economic status of Nigerians in a shortest possible time.”

He stated that the pressing urgency imposes on all of them the task to think outside the box and generate concepts and processes that will accelerate health insurance coverage in the country.

He pointed out that one of such initiatives from the NHIS is the concept of Health Insurance under One Roof (HIUOR), on which they have all been invited to join the leadership of the scheme to fine tune into a commonly acceptable and credible framework of health insurance operation in Nigeria.

“You will recall that at the inception of the current administration in NHIS, we declared a three-point rebranding agenda, following a critical analysis of the crisis that rocked the scheme, with reference to its many years of arrested development and the many causative factors.”

He stated that the pivots of the agenda, which have been consistently communicated to stakeholders and the general public, include value reorientation, which is aimed at engendering a credible organisation committed to integrity and efficiency in the pursuance of our mandate.

It also include, transparency and accountability, which entails openness and mutual inclusivity in the conduct of our operations and business processes; and accelerating the attainment of Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.

He pointed out that fragmentation of pools, policies, strategies, structures and programmes has been identified as critical among the fundamental factors militating against the attainment of UHC, adding that this is a problem that Health Insurance Under One Roof has been designed to solve effectively.

“Health Insurance Under One Roof, ladies and gentlemen, is a concept being promoted by NHIS as part of the ongoing reforms, specifically designed to integrate health insurance structures and programmes across all levels of operation within the framework of a decentralised health insurance ecosystem in Nigeria,” he said.

Meanwhile, the the minister of health in his own address said on its part, the Federal Government will recruit 50,000 health workers whom will be deployed to public health facilities to ensure healthcare delivery to Nigerians in 2019/2020.

Dr Ehanire stated that the poor health indices in Nigeria has continued to be a concern to the Federal Government; and he expressed the optimism that harmonising federal and states health insurance schemes under one roof would improve on healthcare delivery to Nigerians.

“Our deliverable in the health sectors in 2019/2020 includes implementation of mandatory health insurance in collaboration with state governors and FCT administration. It also includes recruitment of 50,000 health extension workers to be deployed and to have federal tertiary hospitals across the country.

“Our health indices continue to be a cause of concern to all of us, particularly the challenges in the key development indicators which as a result of pain of paying at the point of care.

“By ensuring effective implementation of health insurance laws, we are hopeful that these indices will improve and will also ensure we deliver quality healthcare to our people. We are aware of the national health account statistics of 2017, which put out of pocket expenditure at 76.6 per cent. This is one of the highest in the world and the implication is that our people are being impoverished with the present system of seeking healthcare.

“This situation is unacceptable and needs to change. NHIS provides technical assistant to the states in developing their health insurance laws, hence, there should be a common template in application of the laws subject to peculiarities in each state.”

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