The Managing Director of the Society for Family Health, Dr Omokhudu Idogho, has said that health insurance is vital to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage in the country. Idogho said this during a courtesy visit by members of the Society for Family Health to the headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited in Magboro, Ogun State on Tuesday.
He advised the Federal Government to strengthen its regulatory oversight role so as to ensure that health insurance schemes in the country achieve their objectives. He lamented that in the past 14 years the National Health Insurance Scheme in had not been able to meet the expectations of many Nigerians.
Stressing that the implementation of the National Health Act would be an added boost to the scheme, Idogho said, “The statutory backing of the NHIS is now in place and that is the National Health Act, which creates the basic health care provisions funds. This is a big plus for the scheme because it means that, unlike the previous 14 years of the NHIS where the backing was limited to how much they can pull from people, we have a hybrid insurance arrangement where a certain percentage is funded by income tax and additional funding comes from contributory payment known as premiums. This is now an opportunity to get it right, moving forward.
“As an organisation, we believe strongly that because our country is a federation, state governments should be allowed to determine how health insurance should works in their states. The idea of NHIS may take years to work, but the state health insurance scheme will help bring health care closer to the people.”
Igogho added that the regulatory oversight of the Federal Government will help to stabilise the health insurance schemes in the states of the federation, thereby allowing more people to benefit from the scheme.
“The Federal Government must strengthen its regulatory oversight role. For example, if every state has its health insurance scheme, they must obey certain rules. It is the responsibility of the central government to reorganise the principles that shape the operations of the state insurance schemes.
“As an organisation, we are passionate that whatever be the scheme designed, it must ensure that resources flow down to facilities. There are many political bottlenecks in the health insurance schemes running in the country,” he added.
Idogho also noted that commitment from technocrats and accountability was also crucial to the success of health insurance schemes. The Project Director, Adolescent 360, Hajia Fatima Muhammad, said the purpose of the visit to The Punch was to share the vision of the Society for Family Health and its mission with the medium.
She said, “Our focus is to improve the health outcomes for all Nigerians, especially the poor and the vulnerable. We also want to share our current social and cultural narratives for programming around adolescent health needs and challenges in Nigeria and how we have responded.”
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