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NHIS targets enrolment of 45m Nigerians next year




• Plans package for people living with HIV
• To incorporate state govt workers

THE National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) yesterday unveiled an ambitious programme to enrol between 40 million to 45 million Nigerians under its cover.

The agency, which aims to ensure access to health care by all Nigerians at an affordable cost, said the current enrolment rate was low, and, therefore, called on state governments to make it compulsory for their workers.

Similarly, an expert, Lekan Ewenla, has advised that the law establishing the scheme should be urgently reviewed to make it compulsory for every Nigerian with clear definition of responsibilities for the regulator and other stakeholders.
Acting Executive Secretary of the scheme, Femi Akingbade, who spoke to newsmen in Abuja yesterday called attention to the need to expand coverage to state government workers. He also spoke of plans with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) for a package for people living with HIV/AIDS.

“Next year, we are looking at a total minimum of 40 to 45 million people. As at this year, we have a total figure of about 7.9 million people, which is what we will probably close the year with. This cuts across the formal sector programme, the tertiary institutions, community-based and social health insurance that are under the NHIS,” he said.

On the people living with HIV, he noted: “HIV is covered to some extent in the benefit package that we are running right now. NHIS is starting collaboration with NACA to see how we can actually create a benefit package that will take care of people living with HIV.

“So, we are now working with NACA, because we are all aware that the funds from international donors are dwindling. We have about 700, 000 people currently on drugs. We have about 3.4 million people all over the country living with HIV/AIDS. If care is not taken and we allow the rest of the people to feel that they are not receiving succour anywhere, the successes that the country has recorded might be threatened.”

Speaking at the Institute of Directors’ induction of new members ceremony in Lagos, Ewenla, one of the inductees and Managing Director of Ultimate Health Management Services Limited, explained that with the right law in place, and the regulator regulating the NHIS with the right personnel, standard process and procedure, the gradual expansion of the scheme would be smooth and measurable.

Commenting on his admission into the professional institute which promotes best practice and standard corporate governance for directors, Ewenla said he has been a managing director in the health insurance since 2005 and the good reputation of Ultimate Health Management Services, a national health maintenance organization, is an attestation to his integrity and entrepreneurial skills.

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