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Lagos unveils plans to achieve Universal Health Coverage

By Abigail Ikghalu
14 October 2021   |   2:44 am
Towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) before 2030, the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), on the occasion of its one-year anniversary, plans to enrol no fewer than three million Lagosians ...

Emmanuella Zamba. Photo: Facebook.com

Towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) before 2030, the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), on the occasion of its one-year anniversary, plans to enrol no fewer than three million Lagosians before the end of the year.

LASHMA General Manager, Dr. Emmanuella Zamba, during a media parley in Lagos, said as at September 2021, a total of 526,846 Lagos residents have been captured in the state-sponsored health insurance scheme. “A total of 222 hospitals – both private and public – have been approved across the 20 local government areas to provide quality and affordable services to enrollees,” Zamba said.

To deliver on its mandate, LASHMA launched ‘Ilera Eko’ campaign to achieve universal health coverage for Lagosians by the end of 2021.

The LASHMA boss outlined the packages available for the scheme, noting that an individual is required to pay N8,500 yearly, while a family of six, comprising father, mother and four children of less than 18, is to pay N40,000 yearly. She also added that N6,000 would be paid as additional amount for every child below 18 and N8,500 for additional child above 18. “The fee is very affordable. It covers registration and consultation, child sickness, chronic disease, emergency care, care of women and newborn baby,” she said.

Zamba said that there was the need for increased sensitisation through available channels, stressing that the goal of the agency is to reach Lagosians. For ease of registration and enrolment, she said the agency has divisional offices in the five zones of the state. “We have increased access to health insurance to enrollees who are unable to afford full payment, through installment payment structure or ‘Pay-Small-Small’. We have also ensured grassroots presence for ease of registration and enrollment amongst others.”

While urging residents to embrace the scheme to gain access to quality health care, she said the state government set aside funds to take care of residents who could not afford the fees for the health insurance plan.

Zamba said: “Ilera Eko, which is what we call our social health insurance plan, is a call to action for Lagos residents to prioritise their health. It is an opportunity for us to get ourselves quality and affordable health care that will safeguard our lives.

“We are appealing to Lagos residents to please come forward and safeguard the lives of their families. The whole essence of social health insurance is about equity; that is, taking care of those that are downtrodden, that cannot take care of themselves.

“The Lagos State Government has set aside one per cent of our consolidated revenue fund to pay for citizens that cannot pay for themselves. We have a scientific way of going about knowing those people. For those earning money but cannot afford the subscription, we have what we call the Ilera Eko pay ‘small small’ plan. Everybody must key into the health insurance scheme, our interest is in the masses.”

Chairman, LASHMA, Dr. Ade Alakija, said Lagos seeks to ensure the provision of quality and affordable healthcare services to all residents, irrespective of their status.

He said parleying with the media is a strategic step towards achieving statewide universal health coverage, adding that the increment in awareness is expected to meet the LSHS enrolment of one million households, which translates to three million residents in the state within 18 months.

Alakija assured residents, including the vulnerable and less privileged, of access to quality and affordable healthcare, noting that the agency is deploying various health financing initiatives including crowd funding, donations and Lagos State Government Equity Fund for the indigent and vulnerable.

He, however, urged residents, media and other relevant stakeholders to support the efforts and commitment of the administration towards achieving universal health coverage by giving the ‘Ilera Eko’ campaign a wider and effective dissemination.

“The Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS) is marketing under the umbrella brand of ‘ILERA EKO’, which signifies the well-being and health of individuals in Lagos. It also speaks to the aim of LASMHA to provide universal healthcare and the brand promises to leave no one behind,” he said.

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, reiterated that the health scheme is aimed at assisting the government in achieving the state’s agenda of providing universal health coverage for residents, adding that it is a call to action for all residents to prioritise their health and buy into the scheme, which connotes the wellbeing and health of residents.

According to him, the state’s promise to leave no one behind could only be achieved with effective communication activities via the social media, search engine optimisation, mobile billboards and other means of communication.

While emphasising the role of effective communication in realising the objective of the programme, Abayomi commended LASHMA for its efforts towards getting the message across the state, noting that it has helped to create sensitisation on the scheme.

“As many of you would attest, the state has witnessed revamping of health infrastructure, strengthening health security and surveillance systems, and increased focus on maternal, infant, and child health. The government also contributes 75 per cent of the premiums payable by public servants in the state as well as equity fund to pay for social health insurance premiums for the vulnerable residents of Lagos State.

“Through ‘Ilera Eko’, Lagos residents now can enjoy quality, equitable and affordable healthcare. Today, we hear, read and watch testimonies from ‘Ilera Eko’ enrollees on our radio stations, newspapers and online media as well as television stations. Let me add here that ‘Ilera Eko’ is not only for those who can afford to pay the premium. The Lagos State government, through equity fund, provides health insurance coverage for the indigent and vulnerable in our state.

“The strategic measures to achieving the agency mandate are ensuring grassroots presence, ease of registration and payment channels, payment flexibility, continuous sensitization and awareness of the scheme. I also urge you not to relent in accurately informing, educating, and enlightening the people till ‘Ilera Eko’ mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’ is achieved,” Abayomi said.

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