As government moves to deliver affordable and qualitative healthcare to more Nigerians, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) are collaborating to institute a comprehensive community consultation in a bid to boost public knowledge and enrolment in the Scheme.
Director General of NOA, Garba Abari announced this at the opening ceremony of a two-day retreat for Directors of NOA and officers of NHIS in Abuja with the theme “Improving Access to Quality Health Care through Expanded National Health Insurance Coverage”. He highlighted the urgent need for increased awareness on the scope, benefits and implications of NHIS, noting that recent studies reveal that inadequate knowledge about NHIS was responsible for the unwillingness of low income earners to subscribe to the Scheme. He also identified mismanagement and poor service delivery on the part of government as other factors behind skepticism among the public toward health insurance.
Abari however assured Nigerians that the Change programme of government is addressing previous lapses in the health insurance scheme while the NOA/NHIS partnership would address the knowledge deficit among Nigerians as it targets clinics, schools, pension pay points, cooperative associations, market men and women associations, road transport workers and other community groups. He was confident that the national advocacy platforms of NOA and their capacity for grassroot mobilization would help deepen the acceptability of NHIS and widen its spectrum of subscription in the country.
In his address, the NHIS Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf described healthcare as both a human right and a tool for poverty reduction in Nigeria which ensures that the rich subsidize healthcare for the poor. He said the partnership was borne out of the need to ensure that every Nigerian, especially those who cannot pay for themselves, get access to qualitative healthcare.
Prof. Yusuf said health insurance deductions should be made mandatorily from source for all income earners in the country as healthcare savings against the rainy day. He also appealed to legislators to make universal health coverage part of their constituency projects and urged wealthy Nigerians to make healthcare funding their philanthropic projects. He assured Nigerians that health care insurance will henceforth emphasize attention to enrollees as corruption loopholes that enriched healthcare providers and management organizations under the scheme were being plugged.
Yusuf said NHIS was intent on winning the trust of enrollees again and according them the respect they deserve. Consequently, he said desk officers are to be deployed to MDAs and hospitals as advocates for enrollees to receive their complaints about services rendered under the scheme with a view to speedily redressing them.