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NHIS re-strategises to provide cheaper services for informal sector

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Patients in a hospital ward

Patients in a hospital ward

To ensure more Nigerians come under the coverage of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the new Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf, has pledged to reach the poor and the vulnerable in the informal sector, with access to efficient healthcare without financial constraints.

Yusuf, who took charge at the scheme’s headquarters in Abuja, penultimate week, said, “My mandate at the scheme is to design and implement strategies and instruments that will make NHIS a good steward of the nation’s commonwealth. The new process will have no place for vices and distractions like corruption, inefficiency, impunity and political patronage.

“Special attention would be accorded to supporting the poor and the vulnerable in the informal sector to be able to access efficient healthcare without financial constraints.”

The professor of haematology-oncology and bone marrow transplantation, in a statement by the Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Ayo Osinlu, advised all workers of the scheme nationwide to gear up for an internal change process that will lead to the evolution of an efficient, dynamic, and purposeful organisation that is able to address the expectations of all Nigerians, irrespective of social and economic circumstances.

Addressing management of the organisation, he summarised his mandate as refocusing and repositioning NHIS such that it delivers value for all Nigerians.The new NHIS boss, who is a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians, also unveiled a seven-week transition programme, which includes presentations from heads of the various departments, meetings with non-management staff of the agency and consultations with leadership and members of trade unions.

Meanwhile, Yusuf, on Wednesday, paid an advocacy visit to the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba.Yusuf used the opportunity to reassure all Nigerian workers through the leadership of the NLC, that his stewardship at the Scheme shall be credible and purposeful.

According to him, his mandate as custodian of the people’s commonwealth will not be betrayed or compromised, just as he pledged that there would be no room for any stakeholder to take undue advantage of the enrollee.

“Under my watch, the enrollee shall be the key figure. All that we do in the system must be in his best interests, while his rights under the scheme shall be respected and defended”, he said.

The NHIS boss therefore requested the full cooperation and support of the leadership of the labour movement and indeed all-Nigerian workers, in the renewed efforts to make the Scheme deliver service to them in top quality.

Addressing the spate of complaints about the perceived poor quality of service by stakeholders in the health insurance industry, Yusuf appealed to all Nigerians for patience and understanding, assuring that NHIS will henceforth assert its regulatory authority, in a manner that will ensure that all players keep within the laws and operational guidelines of the Scheme.

Yusuf declared: “I am going to be the Executive Secretary of the enrollee. I will watch his back and protect his rights.”In his remarks, the President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, expressed the concern of the Nigerian workforce about the limited scope of the current benefit package of the Scheme, and appealed for its expansion as the Scheme and its funds grow.

The NLC president also called on the Federal Government to exempt the funds of NHIS from Treasury Single Account (TSA), because the funds are contributions of the Nigerian workers and not revenue accruing to the government.

Ayuba, who advocated stiff sanctions against stakeholders who abuse rules and standards, cited the case of an HMO, reported to be in breach of trust to the tune of N90, 000, 000.00, and urged the Executive Secretary to ensure that the matter is properly investigated by the appropriate agencies.

While calling for the strengthening of Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP), in the country, he called for rapid expansion of the Scheme, such that students, pensioners, the aged and other vulnerable classes can enjoy coverage.

Wabba recalled the involvement of the NLC at the inception of the Scheme, as well as his personal contributions to the evolution of NHIS as a former member of the Governing Council of the Scheme.


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