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FG warns against poor service to NHIS enrollees

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Osagie Ehanire

• CMD urges govt to make scheme accessible to all Nigerians
•Why we instituted Imo health insurance scheme, by Ihedioha

The Federal Government has warned healthcare providers accredited under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) against substandard services to enrollees of the scheme.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said that government would not condone any move to draw back its chances of success in the programme.

Speaking at the strategic stakeholders’ forum for healthcare providers organised by NHIS yesterday in Abuja, Ehanire noted that the ongoing reform of the scheme would not achieve much, if enrollees continued to report dissatisfactory services and discourteous handling by hospital staff.

He observed that the provision of qualitative and affordable healthcare to all Nigerians through the NHIS was one of the priority areas of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which aligns with the global agenda for achieving Universal Health Coverage.

However, the Federal Government has been called upon to make the scheme accessible to all Nigerians.

Inaugurating a Signa Explorer 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) diagnostic machine in Memfys Hospital, Enugu, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Sam Ohaegbulam, said his plea had become necessary, as the poverty situation in the country had made it difficult for most Nigerians to pay their medical bills.

Prof. Ohaegbulam stated that the hospital, which also marked its 17th anniversary, invested in the 16 channels model, the highest grade in the country, which global experts confirmed would be capable of performing the advanced protocols needed for accurate diagnosis.

According to the renowned neurosurgeon, “this 1.5T MRI will help us to introduce sequences and protocols that were hitherto impossible, resulting in improved image quality, faster scanning and yet more patient comfort. It will tremendously expand the scope of service with even the capability for whole body screening for cancer without exposing the patient to radiation.”

Meanwhile, Governor Emeka Ihedioha has said that the new Imo State Health Insurance Agency (ISHIA) will allow Imolites to fully benefit from NHIS.

The Commissioner for Heath, Dr. Vin Udokwu, explained yesterday that the agency was a domestication of the NHIS, a requirement for full participation in the national scheme.

On Wednesday, August 28, ISHIA was formally launched in Douglas House, Owerri, with the governor as the first enrollee, followed by some government officials.

Udokwu recalled that the governor had, during his electioneering, and subsequently in his inaugural speech, promised to provide free healthcare services to children under five years, pregnant women and senior citizens of 70 years and above in the state.

The commissioner described the introduction of ISHIA as a welcome development, as it would make healthcare affordable for every category of people in the state. He, therefore, urged Imo people to key fully into the programme.

Special Assistant to the Governor on Research, Ogu Bundu Nwadike, also explained that between May 29, 2011 and May 29, 2019, the provision of healthcare in Imo suffered setback.

“It got to a point where it was clear that the health sector of the state had collapsed. The few available primary health centres became mere centres without doctors, nurses and other healthcare delivery personnel.

“Meanwhile, the general hospitals in the state, which were functional till 2011, gradually stopped working, with their services relegated, necessitating many Imo people that could afford it relying on the usually very expensive private health facilities and Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri,” he said.
Nwadike said the introduction of ISHIA was premised on the low-cost healthcare delivery it would provide.

“All that it entails is, first and foremost, the will of the people to subscribe and be registered in the scheme.

“The introduction of the scheme will be very positive, as the cost of accessing healthcare in the state will be affordable to the citizenry, and lack of liquid cash will no longer be a constraint to accessing qualitative healthcare at primary, secondary and even tertiary levels for the people that will subscribe to the scheme,” Nwadike said.


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