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97% Nigerians are without health insurance – NDHS

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Ninety-seven percent Nigerians (about 194 million) are not using health insurance to access healthcare services, which is denying many children access to basic healthcare, The Nigerian Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2018) report has revealed.

This is even as childhood mortality in Nigeria remains high, with an estimated one million Nigerian children dying yearly before their fifth birthday, the report stated.

Explaining the implications of low health insurance usage, yesterday, during a media parley on data reporting in Port Harcourt, UNICEF-Nigeria Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Maureen Zubie-Okolo, said if more mothers took their children to health facilities for basic vaccinations and other health interventions, child death would be prevented.

But many mothers are paying for healthcare out of their pockets and are unable to afford health service for their children.“This means that only three percent of Nigerians have access to health insurance. And we know that we have people that are not economically empowered to access health services. This implies that many children do not have access to health services because sometimes, the reason women don’t go to health facilities is because of cost. Health insurance ensures that if people are enrolled, they have access to healthcare over a long period,” she said.

According to the NDHS, 2018 report, only 31 per cent children aged 12 to 23 years have received all basic vaccinations, while 19 percent have had no vaccination. “What this means is that the basic vaccination coverage is still very poor, even though percent of children who received all vaccinations increased from 23 percent in 2008 to 31 percent in 2018,” she explained.

According to her, having access to healthcare services during pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery is important for the survival and well-being of mother and child. And health insurance is an avenue for women and children to have more access to healthcare.
Presently, many pregnant women are still delivering at home and by unskilled health workers, which is worrisome.

According to the NDHS 2018, delivery by skilled providers remains low at 43 per cent, even though the trend has improved from 39 per cent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2018. Also, only 39 per cent of birth takes place at health facilities. Earlier, UNICEF-Nigeria Communication Specialist, Geoffrey Njoku, explained that use of NDHS data would help in understanding where the country stands 10 years to the end of SDGs.


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Maureen Zubie-OkoloNDHS
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