NSOANP advocates introduction of free surgical care into NHIA
As part of efforts to improve the quality of life of every citizen in the country, the National Surgical, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan (NSOANP) has proposed the introduction of free surgical emergency care into the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
NHIA was formerly known as National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). President Muhammadu Buhari had in May 2022 signed to law an Act to repeal the NHIS Act of 1999 and establish the NHIA Act 2022.
NSOANP, at a workshop in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, said the proposal is in line with the plan developed by Nigeria in response to the World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution in 2015 in which it enjoin members states to ensure that basic surgical and emergency care is part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in each member state.
Consultant Surgeon, Special Grade 1, Department of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Deborah Bitrus-Oghoghorie, said Mr. President’s policy of compulsory enrolment of every Nigerian for Health Insurance would hopefully come to effect with surgical packages. “We are presently advocating free surgical emergency care for every Nigerian in need of it so Nigerians should prepare and be insured against surgery if at all they will need it,” she said.
Bitrus-Oghoghorie said: “This proposal involves a lot of discussions because it is multi-sectorial. So, we are going to involve the public, NHIS and also the healthcare givers, so that we’ll get a package that is affordable and accessible to every Nigerian when they need surgery.”
According to the WHA Resolution 68:15, Surgical, Obstetric, Anaesthesia and Nursing care are important components of UHC and this UHC is complete when surgeries are fully integrated into healthcare services.
“Surgical, Obstetric, Anaesthesia and Nursing care should be available, accessible and affordable to all who need them. Every Nigerian will be able to get surgical care free of charge when the package comes into effect if every things works out according to plan,” the surgeon said.
Bitrus-Oghoghorie added: “The WHA Resolution has mandated its members to ensure that free surgical care is part of the services they offer towards a UHC. But here in Nigeria, the plan is to make it in such a way that anyone who needs a surgical emergency will not need to pay any money before they are attended to.”
She said NSOANP plans to improve quality of life and reduce the burden of surgery by: advocacy, funding, surgical infrastructure, surgical health insurance and capacity building through training/surgical skills acquisition; and expand safe surgical interventions by increasing surgical workforce example training more surgical specialists, family physicians, general duty doctors and doctors on National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in rural areas on surgical skills.
“We plan to train more surgical workforce that is acutely short, especially for Anaesthesia and Paediatric surgery so that there will be more Anaesthetic and Paediatric surgeons that will be able to offer the needed service in Nigeria,” she said.
She finally advised the general public to key into the NHIS in order to access the surgical care package whenever they need it.