Paul Obi and Bukola Eshun in Abuja
The federal government has said that plans were underway to extend health insurance policy to cover National Youth Service Corps, prison inmates and retirees across the country in a move to reduce burden on the part of citizens.
This was made known by the Acting Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mr. Femi Akingbade during the launch of the Community Based Social Insurance Scheme at Kago in Bwari Area Council of Abuja.
Akingbade said: “As we strive towards achieving our target of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), our key challenge remains extending the benefits of social health insurance to the informal sector.
“As we all know, Nigerians have a very huge informal sector, which forms 80 per cent of total population, while we also recognise the facts that the environment of our targets and goals are only possible if we are able to provide health insurance cover for this sub-sector.”
To that end, the NHIS Acting Executive Secretary stated that government was already formulating “Programmes for NYSC members, prison inmates and retirees are also making perfection towards being rolled out of the benefit of the different categories of beneficiaries nationwide.
“The Community Based Health Program (CBHIP) is our strategy to reach out to the informal sector. With a well developed blueprint and an implementation manual in place, we have commenced implementation across the six geo-political zones of the country. In addition, we are in the process of active engagement with stakeholders to roll out CBHI programme for trade groups and cooperative societies,” Akingbade added.
Executive Director, Centre for Health, Education, Economic Rehabilitation and Social Security, Hajia Ogugua Adagbo argued that the essence of health insurance is “to ensure that marginalised and vulnerable groups and communities gain access to education, health and other social services with the aim of empowering them and improving their health status.
“In this way, we contribute in no small measure, to the socio-economic development of the nation. The interventions are in three key thematic areas of health, education and empowerment.”
Adagbo stated that “the flag-off is a demonstration of our partnership, where we have engaged various communities in the FCT and other states of the federation to assist in the formation of Mutual Health Associations (MHAs) to promote CBSHIP. The Bwari Mutual Health Association is our first fruit these engagements.”
Also speaking, Esu Bwari, Ibrahim Yaro commended government on its resolve to extend health insurance to rural areas, stating that, “we are pleased with the beginning of this programme at the local government level. And not only to civil servants but also to our farmers, this is an issue that lies at the heart of our people’s existence and their expectation of a better quality health life.
“We hope that there will be faithful implementation by the NGOs involved. And I urge them to live up to their duties to justify the aims and objectives of the scheme. We shall liaise with the village and the district heads to ensure that our efforts of awareness reach the grass roots and we give all the glory to God,” Yaro said.