Plateau govt establishes health insurance scheme, distributes 2.5m LLINs
The Plateau State Government has established the State Health Insurance Scheme, to improve access to healthcare and reduce the burden of financing health services on its populace.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau made the announcement on Monday in Jos, during the distribution of 2.5 million Long Lasting Insecticidal Treated Nets (LLINs) across 17 Local Government Areas of the state.
The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, said that the state was working toward establishing the Plateau State Mega Distribution Agency.
According to him, this is to ensure the provision of quality health services and to reduce out-of-stock syndrome in its health facilities.
He said the state government in partnership with the US President Malaria Initiative, was distributing the LLINs to protect Plateau residents against the scourge, especially children and pregnant women who are most vulnerable to Malaria.
Lalong expressed delight that there has been an improvement in its last distribution of 2.1 million nets in 2015 to 2.5million currently being distributed.
“The gesture has also led to a decrease in malaria prevalence by 39 per cent in 2015 to the current 26 per cent as facilitated by the implementation of medical interventions.
“I want to appeal to all Plateau citizens to ensure the utilisation of the mosquito nets by sleeping inside a net every night,” he said.
He said it was illegal to sell the nets as defaulters would be punished, saying a surveillance system was already in place to monitor the distribution process and ensure compliance.
“The government has equally ensured the approval and release of counterpart funding for health programmes such as the malaria programme we are pursuing today.
“This has enabled the state with its partners, to offer free malaria services to all health facilities within the shortest possible time,” he said.
The governor appreciated its partners including the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), World Bank, the Carter Centres, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) , for making significant investments in the health of Plateau people.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar-Ndam said that LLINs have been proven to reduce malaria burden by 65 per cent.
He said the ministry of health and state primary health care development board offer free malaria services including diagnosis and prompt treatment and routine LLINs to pregnant women and children from zero to five years.
The commissioner said all its health facilities were also offering free family planning interventions, adding that plans have been concluded for the takeoff of basic health care provision fund centres across the 325 political wards on Plateau.
He, however, said the state was burdened with inadequate human resources for health care delivery as well as the reemergence of diseases such as yellow fever, Lassa fever, and cholera.
In his remarks, the Mission Director for USAID Nigeria, Mr Stephen Haykin said helping to safeguard the health of the Nigerian people was among its top priorities.
According to him, it has partnered with Nigeria since 2011 to eliminate malaria in the country.
The director, represented by the Nigeria Regional Legal officer, Mr Jonathan Cone, urged traditional leaders to advocate for malaria prevention in their various communities by supporting the campaigns of sleeping under nets.
“I encourage the people of Plateau to set an example for their children and play their part by sleeping under a net every night, ensuring that they test for malaria in case of any fever, and confirm malaria before beginning treatment,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the high point of the event was the investiture of the wife of the Gov. Lalong, Mrs Regina Lalong as the Net Ambassador in the state.