By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government has mapped out plans to bring 15 million elderly Nigerians and retirees under the health insurance scheme.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Ministerial Committee special committee for the provision of health insurance for the retirees and elderly ones last Monday in Abuja, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the aim is to examine options for the provision of health Insurance for retirees and the elderly in Nigeria.
He said the move underscored the resolve and commitment of the federal government to improve access to healthcare and promote the wellbeing of ageing citizens of our country through provision of health insurance for the elderly and retirees.
“We are here today for an activity that could bring help to the elderly in our society and it is to inaugurate members of committee. The president subscribes to the view that elders who have served their country be treated with respect and dignity and commits to investing in older persons in recognition of the contribution they continue to make to family, community and nation,” he said.
According to the minister, elderly and retirees of 60 years and above, make up six to seven per cent, (15 million) out of Nigeria’s population, adding that it is about the size of some countries.
Ehanire said the elderly population may be facing glaring health challenges beyond the wear and tear of aging, and additional strain from financial challenges and psycho-social issues of adjusting to a retiree’s life.
Among the terms of reference given the committee were to assess the current situation of health Insurance coverage and access to health care for retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria, to develop a National Framework for the effective Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens
The committee is to make recommendations to the Minister of Health on the potential resource mobilisation as well as other mechanisms for the successful implementation of the framework and also undertake any other activity that will facilitate the Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens in Nigeria.
The Committee Chairman is Mr Linus Awute, a retired former Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health while one of the m members are Prof. Muhammad Nasiru Sambo, Executive Secretary NHIS/Co- Chair.