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Senate begins public hearing on compulsory health insurance, mental commission bills

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Says NHIS achieved three per cent coverage in 15 years

The Senate Committee on Health yesterday began public hearing and presentation of memoranda on two bills for effective implementation of a national health insurance policy that enhances access to healthcare services to all Nigerians. It also aims to promote and regulate health insurance schemes as well as manage mental and substance abuse in the country.

The two pieces of legislation titled, “A Bill for an Act to Repeal the National Health Insurance Scheme Act, CAP N42, LFN 2004, and to Enact the National Health Insurance Commission Bill, 2019 (SB 65)” and “Bill for an Act to Establish The National Commission for Mental and Substance Abuse Services for Effective Management of Mental Health in Nigeria and for Other Related Matters, 2019 (SB 66)”, were sponsored by the panel chairman, Ibrahim Oloriegbe.

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The first bill seeks the repeal of the non-functional National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the establishment of the National Health Insurance Commission that will, among other things, make health insurance mandatory and universal.

According to a copy of the bill made available to The Guardian, the principal object of the commission “shall be to promote, regulate and integrate health insurance schemes in order to enhance access to healthcare services to all Nigerians.”

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Meanwhile, the NHIS, which was established in 1999 by the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration but commenced operation in 2005, has only achieved three per cent coverage 15 years after, the panel chair, Oloreigbe disclosed.

He lamented that Nigeria was competing with India in the child mortality rate.

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