Nigeria can achieve universal health coverage by 2030, says NHIS boss
Despite recent challenges towards enrollment of 90 per cent of Nigerians into one form of health insurance or another, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is optimistic that if all factors of implementation work according to details set out in its ten-year strategic plan, it will leapfrog the country into Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by the year 2030.
The Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, expressed this optimism in Kaduna, at a two-day management retreat to adopt the ten-year strategic plan document, adding that careful implementation of the roadmap would ultimately bring the country at par with other nations where out-of-pocket expenditure for health had been eliminated.
Sambo, in a press statement, signed by Head, Media & Public Relations, NHIS, Emmanuel Ononokpono, explained that the strategic plan document sets out the roles of all stakeholders, activities and timelines as well as cost implications of all initiatives within the ten-year period elaborately, adding that going forward, all efforts would be brought to align with the strategic plan.
Expressing delight at the development, the health policy expert emphasized that a strategic plan is the foundation of success of any organisation or people, adding that the corporate objectives of all stakeholders under a decentralized health insurance system had been encapsulated in the document.
Allaying fears of a section of Nigerians on sources of funding for the plan, the health insurance boss who is also a health financing expert explained that the projected N3 trillion, which he had hinted at a public forum recently, required yearly for the coverage of all Nigerians was to be raised from various non-governmental sources, including individuals, maintaining that Group, Individual and Family Social Health Insurance Programme (GIFSHIP), its flagship programme was designed in consideration of that objective.
Addressing concerns that Nigerians in rural communities might be left behind, Sambo gave the assurance that the on-going installation of equipment for e-NHIS in all the scheme’s state offices nationwide, to link up with state health insurance systems, as provided for in the strategic plan would ensure inclusiveness, further stating that when fully operational health insurance services would only be a handset away.
According to him, persons residing in rural communities but have a handset would be able to use the gadget for purposes of registration, enrolment, selection of healthcare providers and other relevant operations, noting that the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC’s) approval of the e-NHIS Project was a significant milestone in the drive towards the attainment of UHC.
The planning department of the scheme, in collaboration with development partners, developed the 10-year strategic plan document, over the course of one year.
In related development, the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. MN Sambo has harped on the need for a review of the National Health Act 2014, to accommodate what he described as “gaps in implementation.”
Sambo was addressing members of the National Assembly at a three-day retreat on amendments of the legislation at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, under the theme, “Resolving the Bottlenecks Around Effective Implementation of the National Health Act (NHA).”
He highlighted the gaps in the National Health Act as lack of a governance structure to drive its implementation, absence of a concerted effort to create awareness, absence of clear delineation of roles and responsibilities and lack of enforcement of its various provisions by relevant institutions.
He, therefore, among other suggestions, recommended the constitution of a multi-disciplinary steering committee to drive the implementation of the act.
The three-day retreat was held under the auspices of the House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services.
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