Gbajabiamila seeks Buhari’s assent to Bill seeking to make Health Insurance mandatory
•House considers amendment of National Health Act, recommends upward review of BHCPF from 1% to 2% of Consolidate Revenue Fund
Worried about Nigeria’s poor health indices and the declining life expectancy in the country, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to give assent to the National Health Insurance Amendment Bill, which seeks to make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians. This, he said will enable every Nigerian to have a minimum health insurance package and to improve the nation’s health indices.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives will soon consider the amendment of the National Health Act, which provides the basic framework upon which Healthcare policy in the country is developed and would recommend the increase of the Basic Healthcare Provisions Fund (BHCPF) from one percent to two percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Speaking at the scientific conference of the West African College of Physicians in Abuja, Gbajabiamila said that the National Assembly has tried to address legislation that will provide access to affordable and quality healthcare for all Nigerians bypassing the NHIS amendment Bill to make health insurance scheme mandatory in the country and was hopeful that the president will assent to the Bill.
He observed that the BHCPF came with a basic minimum package for emergency preparedness and will also consider the infectious Disease Control Bill, which provides for emergency preparedness in the country. The Speaker noted that the National Assembly is awaiting concurrence from the Executive on addressing the gunshot injuries because of the lacuna in the previous bill on sources of funding or payment of services rendered to victims of gunshot injuries. He stated that the theme of the conference, “Nigeria Health indices: Challenges and Prospects in a contemporary World”, came at a time Nigeria is facing three major crises of COVID-19 pandemic, security challenges, and dwindling resources, which significantly affects the health indices. Gbajabiamila noted that the National Assembly has tried to address the challenges through effective legislation, oversight, and representation adding that at the onset of COVID-19, Nigeria had only about four laboratories that can diagnose the virus but following the active budgetary allocation, we have over 130 laboratories nationwide.
Earlier, the President of the West Africa College of Physicians, Prof. Afolabi Lesi noted that we are in extraordinary times especially with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic adding that the college has been adapting to the audacious conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Represented by Dr. Benjamin Uzochukwu, the President of the College noted that Health indices provide nations, their health policymakers, and managers with essential information on key aspects of the health status of their populations and commended the Nigerian chapter of the college for its efforts at upholding the ideal of the college.
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora said that with an estimated population of over 200 million, our national health indices depicts the performance of our health system adding that Nigeria’s children mortality ratio is 512 per 1000 live births while the pregnancy-related mortality ratio stands at 556 per 100,000 live births.
For the National Chairman of the College, Prof Aboi Jeremiah Madaki, Nigeria’s health indices portray the declining health status of Nigeria when viewed as a trend over the years and also when compared with regional and global standards.
According to him, “This index keep changing every minute, the health indices of Nigeria are not pleasant and we are not doing well. Life expectancy has been on the decline. We are dying too fast and too many, we are only better than a country like Lesotho, and that is not a good picture. We are worried about why we are dying much more than our neighbours.”
He noted that the infant mortality, neonatal and under-five mortality rates indicators, showed that Nigeria performs worse than its close neighbours. “An important indicator of the physical well-being of a community. Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), which is dying between birth and one year of age stands at 74/1000 live births and third-worst in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Specialist Physicians numbering over 600 under the auspices of the West-African College of Physicians Nigeria Chapter, shall examine the factors responsible for the poor Nigeria health indices and also proffer solutions on how to improve the health of Nigerians during their 44/45th Annual General and Scientific Conference holding at Abuja from 12-16 July 2021,” he added.
He called on the country’s leadership to take urgent steps to reduce preventable deaths and improve the quality of life of the citizens and urged health-related professional bodies, security agencies and the general public to support government efforts in reducing preventable deaths in the country and making the country better.