The Federal Government would require to set aside a minimum of a third of its annual budget to provide access to health insurance for over 200 million of its population every year, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mohammed Sambo, has said.
Mr Sambo disclosed this while responding to a question on the sufficiency of funding for the Scheme during a courtesy visit to the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.
With sufficient funding in the health insurance pool, the NHIS boss said the health scheme would expand its benefit package to include medical conditions such as cancer currently not included, and the establishment of a Catastrophic Fund being planned to specifically address terminal ailments.
Giving details of efforts at expand coverage to all segments of the Nigerian society,
Mr Sambo disclosed that all processes to enroll members of the National Youth
Service Corps (NYSC) into the Scheme have been finalized.
Coverage, he said, would commence with the release of funds by the government for that purpose, adding that plans to extend health insurance cover to the elderly and retirees
have also reached advanced stage.
While acknowledging the challenges of drug dispensing within the health insurance system, the NHIS Executive Secretary expressed optimism that the planned collaboration between NHIS and drug manufacturers would affect direct supplies to hospitals, and ensure
affordability and availability.
He emphasized the importance of an efficient system where stakeholders observed
laid down rules and play by the rules of their practice.
The healthcare financing expert disclosed that the debt reconciliation exercise directed by the Scheme between health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and healthcare professionals (HCPs) yielded the paying back of N26billion to hospitals.
With that arrangement, he said complaints from health facilities about payments have dropped significantly in recent times.
Highlighting the trajectory of NHIS in the country, Mr Sambo said the reforms initiated under
his watch have so far brought stability to the Scheme and rapidly steering the system towards
the attainment of the target of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Appreciative of the growing acceptability of the Scheme by the Nigerian public, the NHIS
scribe harped on the releationship between the Scheme’s attainment of its goals and the
imperatives of information dissemination by the media.
He said media support to the activities of the Scheme was key to its success in deepening awareness of its programmes among members of the public.
According to him, the role of the media within the country’s information space was
important, stressing that the Scheme’s relationship with the media held the
prospects of immense mutual benefits.
In his response, the managing director of NAN, Buki Ponle underscored the importance of its brand of journalism, saying the agency’s practice of “development journalism” has changed
the narrative in reporting Africa through development issues.
“We try as much as possible to report adequately and proffer solutions to development issues. We identify and emphasize with humanity,” he said.
He commended the NHIS boss for the ongoing reforms towards addressing the
challenges of the Scheme in the country, promising that the agency would continue to leverage the partnership they have cultivated since 2001 to help the Scheme make progress towards achieving its objectives.