NHIS Act passed into law, awaits Presidential assent
Silverbird seeks partnership with Scheme on universal health coverage, awareness programmes
Nigeria’s hope of ensuring health for all and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has received a boost, as the reviewed NHIS Act that seeks to make the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) mandatory for every Nigerian now awaits Presidential assent after being passed into law by the two chambers of National Assembly.
This was disclosed by the Director General, NHIS, Prof. Mohammed N. Sambo, when the President of the Silverbird Group, Mr. Guy Muray-Bruce, paid a courtesy call on the health insurance boss in Abuja.
Also, in a move that is certain to deepen awareness of programmes and improve the knowledge of members of the public about health insurance, the NHIS and the Silverbird Group have agreed to explore ways of working together in the overall drive towards the attainment of UHC.
Sambo, according to a statement signed by Head, Media & Public Relations, NHIS, Emmanuel Ononokpono, “The reviewed NHIS Act that has undergone legislative amendment has been presented to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent following its passage by both chambers of legislature, adding that the would-be legislation will make health insurance compulsory for all Nigerians.
“With the passage of the bill into law, the Buhari administration’s Next level agenda on health, which is to ensure that all Nigerians have access to affordable and quality healthcare, will be achieved. The Scheme’s 10-year strategic plan, which implementation has begun, holds the prospects of ensuring that UHC is attained before the projected timeline.”
Sambo noted that access to affordable and quality health care for all Nigerians would be attainment of the landmark of one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that the Scheme had successfully covered 99 per cent of workers who are on Federal Government payroll under its formal sector programme.
Highlighting the impact of the recent history of the Scheme on the actualisation of its mandate, Sambo told the Silverbird boss that upon appointment he inherited an agency that had drifted away from its core objectives, prompting him to conduct a system diagnosis in resolving the problems he met on ground.
According to him, the Scheme’s high turnover of chief executives, which made him the 12th in the organisation’s 25-year history, had adversely affected the implementation of the Scheme’s programmes, giving the assurance that the major problems of the Scheme will be resolved under his watch.
Sambo said: “Having earned my name in organisational management, if I am unable to fix NHIS’ problems then after my tenure I should go back to my village rather than back to the classroom.”
On ways of addressing the low awareness of the Scheme, Sambo stressed the significance of partnership with the media as a viable and effective vehicle for mass education, maintaining that policies would work better where the people in whose interest these initiatives were put in place understood how the policies operate in the first place.
Muray-Bruce, who led a five-person delegation on the visit, in his remarks, said that his organisation was seeking areas of partnership and collaboration with the Scheme in the overall interest of Nigeria’s healthcare system, noting that Silverbird was in a position to give positive representation to the various efforts of the Scheme.
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