“The partnership is expedient to ensure that majority of our citizens have access to quality and affordable healthcare services irrespective of their place of domain,’’ Abari said.
He tasked the state directors and officers to be ready to create awareness, enlightenment and educate Nigerians, especially at the grassroots on the benefits of registering with NHIS scheme.
“So it is now NOA’s responsibility to use our robust platform of its presence in all the 774 local government areas to communicate and sensitise the citizenry about this.
“The statutory responsibility of public enlightenment mass mobilisation and social re-orientation of citizens on all issues of public concern rests on the agency.
“Our members of staff are armed with relevant information to disseminate using the health orientation and other platforms of the agency.
“The education campaigns to increase knowledge and understanding of the NHIS are narrow and have not penetrated many communities where information about it was really needed.
“So the partnership will help to create overwhelming awareness and also change any negative attitude about the scheme,’’ Abari said.
He recommended that a comprehensive community consultation plan be established and implemented to increase awareness among community members.
Abari appealed that the consultation should include clinics, schools, pension pay points, cooperative associations, market men and women, okada riders and others.
“Studies have revealed that low income households are initially unwilling to subscribe to such health insurance scheme because they lack knowledge.
“They always think such programmes are for the rich and urban dwellers. So we need to change their belief.
“The degree to which knowledge influences utilisation, acceptability and smooth implementation of healthcare interventions have been investigated in other countries and found to be indeed relevant.
“There is an urgent need to improve on public knowledge on NHIS, its uptake and acceptability in Nigeria,’’ Abari said.
He promised that NOA would work closely with NHIS and offer assistance using its national advocacy footprint and time tested capacity for the grassroots.
Prof. Usman Yusuf, the Executive Secretary of NHIS said had resolved to partner with NOA to create awareness on the benefits of the scheme.
“NHIS has not reached the people they are meant to reach.
“A lot of people don’t know what we do, especially the ones in the rural communities, they assume the scheme is for the elites.
“It is quite unfortunate that after 11 years of establishing NHIS, it has only covered 3 to 4 per cent of the populace which makes me think we must have been doing the wrong thing.
“NHIS has the potential to make a difference in the life and healthcare delivery to our people.
“It creates an avenue where everyone can access health care irrespective of his financial capacity,’’ Yusuf said.
He stated that the robust platform of NOA would go a long way to educate, enlighten and create the very much needed awareness on the scheme at the grassroots.
“It has not used various channels to improve penetration; people have also not carried out advocacy visits.
“So NOA is an agency and channel that I think should be harnessed properly and strongly focused on.
Edited by: Tola Okinbaloye/Ese E. Ekama