Participants in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are now to benefit from health services under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The decision to extend the universal health coverage (UHC) to the corps members followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the NHIS and the NYSC.
Coming after years of planning dating back to 2011, the arrangement would allow all participants in the annual mandatory programme to render free service to fatherland after graduation from university and polytechnic to access affordable and quality health care nationwide.
At the ceremony in Abuja on Tuesday, the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Mohammed Sambo, and the Director General of the NYSC, Shuaibu Ibrahim, signed on behalf of their organizations.
After the signing of the document, Sambo described the exercise as an important chapter opened in the pursuit of universal health coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.
By extending health insurance to all Nigerians, including those participating in the NYSC, the NHIS Executive Secretary said, was an integral part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Next Level agenda on health services to the people.
Sambo recalled deep efforts by the leadership of NHIS and NYSC in the build up to the plan, including collaboration with lawmakers in the National Assembly and officials of the ministry of finance to appropriate and release funds respectively in the 2021 budget for corps members’ health insurance.
The healthcare coverage of corpers, the NHIS boss said, could not have come at a better time, with the recent upward review of the allowances of NYSC members.
He urged corps members to reciprocate the various efforts of the government in youth development in the country by rendering selfless and dedicated service to the nation during their service year.
Reviewing the various efforts of NHIS to reform the national health insurance services, Sambo said the introduction of Group Individual Family Social Health Insurance Programme (GIFSHIP) held the prospect of bringing every Nigerian under the national health insurance coverage.
The NHIS Executive-Secretary said the MoU signing would further the plan by the Federal Government to significantly widen access to health insurance to all sectors of the economy.
He expressed optimism that providing health insurance coverage for serving NYSC members would go a long way in improving their welfare during the service year.
“We are working with the presidential mandate of leaving no one behind when it comes to health insurance.
“Today, we have taken a big step to ensure that corps members are integrated into the NHIS. Their integration will expand the ratio of the coverage of the NHIS and provide easy access to corps members for health services”, Sambo said.
As part of the continuing expansion of the coverage to the players in the various sectors of the economy, members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) recently also accepted to come under the programme.
Other beneficiaries of the NHIS health insurance coverage under the GIFSHIP initiative include retirees of the Nigerian Police Force and the Department of State Services.
“No self-respecting nation can lay claim to development without the provision of adequate health care services for its people. With the GIFSHIP, we are leaving no one behind in our determination to see that all Nigerians have access to unqualified Healthcare,” Sambo said.
The Director General of the NYSC, Shuaibu Ibrahim, said the extension of health insurance services to the corps members was the first of its kind milestone deserving of a national attention.
He described the event as the culmination of years of planning and designing of a document that would provide the template for providing health insurance for corps members.
“The signing of the MoU today is in line with the presidential directive that corps members be enrolled in the NHIS. This goes to show that the welfare of corps members is top priority to the Federal Government.
“We, the management of the NYSC and corps members are here today to thank the Federal Government, especially President Muhammadu Buhari for his uncommon love for his people.
“Like I always say, to whom much is given much is expected, the corps members are going to render services to our people. They are doing so well in our hospitals, schools and many other establishments. Today’s event will inspire them to do more,” he said.
Highlighting the contributions of the NYSC members to national development, Ibrahim said those of them who are medical professionals recently provided medical delivery services to some of their colleagues during the ongoing industrial action of resident doctors, as part of their continued critical roles they play in nation building.
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