There’s link between poverty, ill health – NHIS boss

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The Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS), Prof. Muhammed Sambo has said there is a link between poverty and ill health.

Prof. sambo who made this known at an Informal Engagement with Health Correspondence in Kaduna organized by his Scheme stressed the need for health insurance to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure while stating the World Bank assertion that 92.6 will be living in poverty by 2022.

“According to National Bureau of Statistics 2019, one in 10 Nigerians (more than 82.9 million) is living in poverty. 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.”

He said health insurance is anchored on risk and resource pooling and health insurance is contributory not free because people are contributing to the pool and everyone that wants to have access must endeavour to make contributions.

“The best way to finance health insurance is through health financing whereby people make contribution to the pool and people make use of it as the need comes. The Federal Government has done its best for the staff but the informal sector has to also be in support. Up until now, some state government are yet to connect.”

The ES said the the Scheme is committed to ensuring financial access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians adding that with the institutionalisation of the three-point rebranding agenda and engagement of critical stakeholders including the media, the scheme would achieve its mandate of ensuring quality healthcare delivery to all Nigerians.

Prof. Sambo listed value reorientation; transparency and accountability, and accelerating the drive of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as the three points branding agenda of the scheme.

“For the Scheme to move forward, we would leverage on pushing for legislation for mandatory health insurance, implementing robust 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.”

Speaking further he said, the review of the NHIS Act would enable the scheme to enroll more Nigerians, especially the informal sector adding that 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.”

Prof. Samo said, under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) he said they have been able to map all Nigerians, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to be added to 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.

“Discussion 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.”

He enjoined the media to understand the difference between the old and the new NHIS for better understanding in their reportage adding that the media is one of the partners that can help in moving the Scheme forward.

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