Martins Ifijeh

The Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN) has called on the federal government to establish a governing council in the National Health Insurance Scheme ( NHIS), as well as an ICT platform, if it must curb corruption in the system.

It said corruption only thrived in NHIS because there was no governing council in place to checkmate excesses of those managing the scheme.

Stating this during a media interaction in Lagos, the National Chairman, HMCAN, Dr. Tunde Ladele said the establishment of the Council, as provided by the Law establishing NHIS, would make it possible for the Executive Secretary of the Scheme to be checkmated, adding that this was contained in the six fundamental solutions HMCAN had proffered, which the federal government requires for the growth of health insurance in the country.

Ladele, who was supported by the body’s Vice Chairman, Dr. Peter Oriavwote, Publicity Secretary, Lekan Ewenla and Executive Secretary, Barrister Ngozi Nduka-Uba, said the NHIS Act 35 of 1999 was obsolete and needed reviewing as indicated by the 2004 NHIS amendment Bill which made provision for a Council which is expected to oversee the day-to-day running of the Scheme, function as registering HMOs and Healthcare Providers, provide policy guidelines and administration for the scheme, determine after negotiation, capitation and other payments due to healthcare providers by HMOs among other functions in order to check the excesses of the ES as the sole administrator and sole signatory to the accounts of the Scheme.

“Unfortunately we are faced with a situation that was not created by Law in which an ES has become the sole authority to determine who is an HMO or Care Provider and even disburses more than what the Law stipulates, simply because of the gaps created by non-existence of a governing council.

“The situation has become an aberration in which even the excesses of some Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) could not be punished because there is no collaboration between the Regulator and the HMO Managers,” he said.

According to him, the federal government should standardise the process of recruitment and appointment of the leadership of the agency.

“The health insurance scheme should be made mandatory for all Nigerians. The federal government should create a National Health fund agency to handle the managing of public sector health insurance scheme with other schemes like the scheme for vulnerable groups in the country.”

In his remarks, National Publicity Secretary, HMCAN, Mr. Lekan Ewenla, said the federal government must remove the NHIS as the managers of the scheme’s fund and establish a National Health Commission to manage it as was the case in the telecommunication industry.

“Government needs to take health sector appointments off the political radar and stop playing politics with the health of Nigerians.

According to Ewenla, the suspended NHIS boss allegedly ran the scheme like his private enterprise as a result of what he described as poverty of knowledge, adding that many of the issues were not clear to him.He was going to remove HMOs and focus on paying hospitals instead of regulating the scheme”, he noted.