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NHIS canvasses one kobo per second telecoms charge for health coverage of vulnerable Nigerians

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
17 December 2021   |   3:33 am
Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Mohammed Sambo, has canvassed one kobo per second call from telecommunications for full coverage of vulnerable Nigerians...

Prof. Sambo, ES/CEO of NHIS

Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Mohammed Sambo, has canvassed one kobo per second call from telecommunications for full coverage of vulnerable Nigerians. The organisation added that it had disbursed some N14.9 billion to states.

Speaking at the 2021 stakeholders summit on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), yesterday, in Abuja, Sambo noted that though the mandatory health insurance had provisions for vulnerable fund, he said that was not what the agency wanted, adding that the one kobo per second call has tremendous capacity to bring huge resources in billions that would be used to cover the vulnerable segment of the population.

The NHIS boss stated that because “Nigeria is one of the signatories to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and efforts to achieve UHC, it has to finance health insurance and considering that the vulnerable cannot afford to pay for health insurance, we have to devise a mechanism of paying for them.”

He said: “We wanted one kobo per second call from telecommunications to enable the scheme provide health insurance for vulnerable Nigerians. When you take one kobo per second call, nobody will feel that anything has been deducted from his or her call, but It has tremendous capacity to bring huge resources in billions that would be used to cover the vulnerable segment of the population.”

Sambo lamented that 70 per cent of Nigerians pay out of their pocket for healthcare services, hence the need to mobilise resources for universal health coverage.

He stressed that the total enrolment target was 1.2 million people, while the number of poor people in the country is about 80 million.

The NHIS boss pointed out that health insurance scheme could not be implemented in an atmosphere of ignorance, as there must be accountability framework, else the scheme would collapse.

According to him, the NHIS has accredited 7,252 healthcare facilities, but the non-release of Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) after initial disbursements, weak political and financial commitment and others factors have constituted a big challenge.

Chairman of the UHC 2023 Forum, Mrs. Moji Makanjuola, lamented that Nigeria “is not on the trajectory of UHC given its unacceptably low coverage of five per cent basic health care services.”

She said the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the country’s sub-optimal health security system, stating that the slow progress on UHC and gaps in the health security system were attributable to sub-optimal public financing for health and weak accountability arrangements for public financial management at all tiers of government.