- Agency not a hub of corruption, says acting executive secretary
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has commenced decentralisation of the health insurance scheme, extending it to states and beyond employees of the federal government.
The Acting Executive Secretary of NHIS, Mallam Atahiru Ibrahim, disclosed this tuesday during a briefing with journalists in Abuja in order to address what he noted as negative about the Scheme.
Ibrahim commended the media for their restraint from joining the onslaught against NHIS but assured that the agency will commence the accreditation of Health Management Organisations (HMOs) in order to check the excesses in the system.
He said the accreditation exercise will last for two months ,and also pave way for a new structure in the scheme.
Speaking further, he noted that the management is decentralising the operation of the NHIS and encouraged the states to have their own agency with functional operation .
Ibrahim stressed that over six million Nigerians are benefitting from the scheme from its different angles.
He noted that the employees of the federal government make up the bulk of the enrollees of the scheme, while encouraging other citizens to be actively involved especially those in the private sector to make themselves available.
Ibrahim said: “Let us remind all that health insurance is a contributory arrangement, whereby only contributors are expected to benefit from the prescribed services.
“In this context, we have achieved a near 100 per cent coverage of all contributors in the formal sector, made up of employees of the federal government, whose contributions make the bulk of our pool of funds.
“We are also currently covering other Nigerians on other different platforms, such as: TISHIP, CBSHIP, MCH and MDGs. To be able to extend coverage to other less privileged citizens often called ‘vulnerable’, the scheme looks up to government to provide funds for their coverage through special funding mechanisms, as they are clearly known to lack the capacity to pay for themselves.
This is because there can be no free coverage in an insurance arrangement. Only contributors can benefit.”
The NHIS boss, while speaking on the issue of corruption, assured those concerned that various agencies of the government are handling such issues and doing all it takes to curtail the effect in the scheme.
Reacting to the punitive measures for culprits in the scheme, Ibrahim warned that those who are abusing the privilege of the office being assigned to them will be made to face the wrath of the law.
According to him, the move to smear the image of the agency is unacceptable, adding that the NHIS staff are honest people with one or two infractions
He said: “We want to assure the media and Nigerians that the scheme, as an institution, welcomes all attempt to check the excesses of errant stakeholders, towards making the industry safer and stronger.
“In the process, the scheme also strongly supports the rule of law, whereby anyone found wanting in the course of the operations of the scheme, whether on the inside or outside, should be handed over to the agencies of government with the appropriate mandate to make such people accountable, as in all decent societies.”
“However, it must be urgently stressed that the attempt to smear the corporate image of the scheme as a hub of corruption is both untrue and unacceptable.
“Rather, it is those who have been abusing their privileges around the Scheme that should be identified and made to face the consequences of their actions in full measure,” he added.
Ibrahim said it is also important to put it on record that NHIS has not done badly in the implementation of its mandate, 12 years after its official launch.
For instance, he said the Scheme, through the diligence and integrity of its staff, grew the pool of funds from N3 billion at inception to what it is today.
Ibrahim assured that NHIS is rapidly emerging from the distractions of the last one year, and will be giving a lot of energy to its activities as they go forward.
He listed these areas to include: SSHIP, VCSHIP, Accreditation of HCFs, CBSHIP, Mop-up Registration, Quality Assurance,
He reassured Nigerians that the shceme will continue in its tradition of a socially-responsible public institution, and will require the critical support of the media in the process, as in the past.
In the same vein ,the General Manager, Standard and Quality Assurance, Dr. Chris Amadi, disclosed that plans are being put in place to reaccredit the 57 HMOS ,with ministerial approval.
Amadi said the there are close to 13,000 hospitals on the list ,with strong reinforcement team who manages the standard for the scheme .
Also, the General Manager, Informal Sector, Hajiya India Anibilowo, disclosed that the NHIS have sanctioned health care facilities that are not sanctioned in tines past .
Anibilowo, urged enrollees to give regular feedback to the management on the performance of the HMOS,so that there would be credibility in the system .
“The standard that we have set is high ,we have deployed desk officers in high density areas where there are numerous enrollees,” she said.