Over 100 million Nigerians can’t afford treatment in hospitals, says Dogara
• Reps vow to expose NHIS saboteurs
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has said that over 100 million Nigerians cannot afford to pay bills for treatment of illnesses in public health facilities.
Dogara spoke while declaring open an investigative hearing by the House of Representatives committee probing into the compliance rate of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to the NHIS contributions and utilisation of funds by the healthcare providers and inhuman treatment of enrollees at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.
He said it was regrettable that there is no mechanism to protect vulnerable families from the catastrophic effects of the exorbitant cost of healthcare services in Nigeria.
The speaker contended that poor families, who constitute over 67 per cent of our population, cannot pay for treatment of malaria in public health facilities, or for routine antenatal services.
To achieve desired outcomes and changes, the Speaker noted that here is a compelling need to expand the coverage levels of NHIS, currently estimated to be about four-five per cent of Nigerians, mostly in the formal sector.
He observed that a scenario where the abysmally low coverage is attributable to those in paid employment and other types of formal sector creates suspicion of lack of creativity and innovation on the part of key actors in the Health insurance industry in Nigeria, especially HMOs.
Calling for a repositioning of the scheme, he said NHIS and the delivery partners have been subjected to various criticisms, challenges and complaints ranging from untimely payment by Healthcare Providers from the HMOs to unsatisfactory health services to enrollers.
Meanwhile, the Chike Okafor led House of Representatives committee probing the scheme has vowed to expose those that undermined it.Already, it had obtained an eight years record of monetary transaction between the NHIS, the HMOs and the Healthcare Providers (HCP) to unearth those who stole monies meant for the wellbeing of subscribers to the scheme.
Okafor who stated that the committee received about 450 petitions on the shoddy implementation of the scheme assured that the report of the investigative hearing aimed at repositioning the NHIS would be ready within two weeks after members of the lower legislative chamber must have reconvened on July 4.
NHIS Executive Secretary, Prof. Yusuf Usman, insisted that N381 billion was disbursed under the NHIS scheme within the past 12 years, adding that on administration fee alone, the HMOs got N60 billion within the period under review.
Usman who is barely a year on the NHIS saddle argued that the mere fact only 450,000 were enrolled out of a population of 170 million Nigerians into the scheme within the period under review speaks volume of the failure of those entrusted with the management of the scheme over the years.
He vowed to rid the scheme of corrupt practices and undertake a massive awareness campaign to ensure that Nigerians from both the formal and informal sectors of the economy were enrolled into the NHIS scheme.