UHC: UNICEF, Oyo Health Insurance Boss Seek Advocacy on Universal Health Coverage

Funmi Ogundare

The Oyo State Health Insurance Agency, yesterday appealed to the media to help create awareness around health insurance scheme, saying it should be seen as a social responsibility as this would enhance accessibility to health care.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr. Olusola Akande made this appeal at a two-day media dialogue held in collaboration with the agency and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) themed: ‘Changing the Narrative on Child Mortality Through Health Insurance,’ in Ibadan, Oyo State,

Akande stated that despite the fact that it is mandatory in the country, health insurance coverage is still very poor.  He described Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a leveller, saying that the aim is to get everyone on insurance irrespective of their status in the society.

“What we are pursuing on UHC is to get as many people as possible on insurance; the poor, rich, rural and urban dwellers . We want to get them into the health insurance basket .

“ The moment you are able to get these categories of people into the basket, they become equal and they come into the same premium which is N13,500 as obtainable in Oyo state.

“That is what the poor or vulnerable and the rich should pay . Even if someone is paying for it , the N13,500 is buying a specific package which could be anti-natal, caesarean section, among others,” he said.

He expressed concern that even the elites don’t have a proper grasp of what health insurance is, saying that everyone is supposed to contribute to the scheme of their state.

In his presentation titled: ‘ Scorecard on Social Insurance Scheme: The Situation in Nigeria ‘, the executive secretary explained that health insurance is not meant to make the poor get poorer, but ensure that they have access to healthcare when they want it.

He listed some of the challenges to health insurance to include: Non-mandatory status, lack of political will, bias for formal sector, poor awareness, insecurity in some states disrupting service delivery and enrolment drive, high cost of medicines and medical consumables .

The executive secretary stressed the need to ameliorate security challenges in the country, improved political commitment of sub-national government, ensuring the provision of healthcare fund, saying these would go a long way in scaling up health insurance in Nigeria.

In her remarks, the Communication Officer, UNICEF, Ms Blessing Ejiofor explained that advocacy and awareness must be stepped up for everyone, particularly the state governments, to attain UHC, adding that it is also important to ensure that every child in Nigeria survive and fulfil their potentials.

Addressing participants on the topic: “Access to Health Insurance: A Gateway to Achieve Universal Health Coverage for All in Nigeria’, a Health Specialist with UNICEF, Dr. Ijeoma Agbo stated that the percentage of the population covered by health insurance has been steadily increasing over the years, but significant gaps still exist, with a substantial portion of the population, especially the vulnerable, remaining uninsured.

“UHC is achieved when  everyone has access to high-quality essential services they need without facing financial hardship, particularly at the time of service delivery.

“Several states in Nigeria have introduced their own health insurance schemes to complement the NHIS and extend coverage to residents. These state-level schemes vary in scope, coverage, and implementation effectiveness and impact in terms of overall progress towards UHC,” he said.

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