BY NEWS DESK, FEBRUARY 10, 2024 | 10:37 PM
Forum of Chief Executive Officers of State Social Health Insurance Agencies, SSHIA, has reported that 50 per cent of citizens have enrolled in the National Health Insurance Authority, NHIA, within five years, describing it as a notable achievement.
Dr Simeon Onyemaechi, Chairman of the forum, said this during its first quarter review meeting on Friday in Abuja.
He said the enrollment rate signified substantial progress in expanding health insurance coverage and underscored the effectiveness of the NHIA in reaching and enrolling a significant portion of the population.
He said that the SSHIS, introduced by the Nigeria Government, was designed to address the long-standing issue of limited healthcare access for a significant portion of the population.
He said that the state-level insurance programmes aimed to provide comprehensive health coverage to both formal and informal sector workers, including the most vulnerable groups.
“Since their implementation, the SSHIS have witnessed an exponential increase in enrollment, with millions of Nigerians now benefiting from improved access to healthcare services.
“The schemes cover a wide range of medical services, including hospitalization, outpatient care, preventive care and essential medications,” he said.
The success of the SSHIS, he said, could be attributed to several factors.
“Firstly, the affordability of these schemes has made them accessible to a larger portion of the population, breaking down financial barriers to healthcare.
“Additionally, the comprehensive coverage provided by the schemes has instilled a sense of security among Nigerians, encouraging them to enrol and utilise the available services,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that the involvement of state governments in the implementation and management of these schemes had played a crucial role in their success.
“The collaboration between the federal and state governments has ensured effective administration, efficient fund allocation, and improved healthcare infrastructure across the states,” he said.
He said that the impact of the SSHIS on healthcare outcomes had been significant.
“By providing access to quality healthcare services, the schemes have contributed to the reduction of preventable diseases, improved maternal and child health, and better management of chronic conditions.
“This, in turn, has positively impacted the overall health and well-being of Nigerians, leading to increased productivity and economic growth,” he said.
While the success of the SSHIS is commendable, challenges remain, he said.
He stressed the need for continued investment in healthcare infrastructure, enhancement of service quality and expansion of coverage to remote areas.
He said the sustainability of the schemes in the long run would necessitate ongoing collaboration between the government, healthcare providers, and the public.
He unveiled a multifaceted approach aimed at enhancing access to healthcare across the country.
“Key initiatives include urging employers to provide health insurance for their workers, implementing a tax-for-service model for the organized informal sector and expanding the NHIA medicine supply initiative to ensure medication availability.”
He highlighted a notable funding mechanism: allocation of the Vulnerable Group Fund, VGF, sourced from a ring-fenced 2.5 per cent increment on Value Added Tax.
“This financial strategy aims to bolster resources for healthcare services targeted at vulnerable populations,” he said.
Moreover, he underscored their commitment to learning from the experiences of other states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to avoid starting from scratch.
“By leveraging existing solutions and innovations, we aim to accelerate progress and achieve tangible results in the upcoming quarter.
Dr Vetty Agala, Ag Executive Secretary, Rivers State Contributory Health Protection Programme, RIVCHPP, highlighted the need for awareness creation.
Mr Agala said that the state had the support of the governor who was people-oriented and ready to make sure that the citizens of the state went into the hinterland to cover everyone, especially the vulnerable population.
“Our governor is ready to ensure that our equity plan and our informal sector plan are top-notch while we deal with organised labour and ensure that they key in.
“We are going to be working with the experience of the other 35 states and the FCT and ensure that we learn from their mistakes, hoping we do not start from ground zero.
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Health Management Agency, Dr Emmanuella Zamba, said the major pillars that made the state successful were getting the formal sector involved and ensuring programmes for vulnerable people.
Mr Zamba said the priority was that the state needed to bring in the formal sector that helped the state risk pool and give leverage to involve others.
“We have enjoyed political goodwill; our governor’s priority is social welfare. We have his support in ensuring that the equity fund is released and reaches vulnerable people.
“We also went a step further to include public awareness, getting people to contribute to insurance information so that philanthropists and politicians, woul come on board to support people in their constituencies and pay for them.
According to her, we bring in technical people who understand what insurance is and contribute so that people with the capacity can understand what the vision and mission are, to provide the necessary expertise.
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