Dr Christopher Okoh, the Benue Coordinator, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), says that 41,306 vulnerable persons have been covered by health insurance in the state.
Okoh said this on Thursday during a media parley with journalists in Makurdi.
He said that 150 beneficiaries were picked from each ward in Benue for the health insurance cover.
“The health insurance cover for the vulnerable was made possible because of the new National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 signed into law on May 19, 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The new law which repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme Act, 2004 will ensure universal health coverage for all Nigerians“Government has set up a fund to ensure coverage of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums,” Okoh said.
The state coordinator noted that the vulnerable group fund was being financed through the basic health care provision fund, health insurance levy and special intervention fund.
He added that also contributing to the fund were any investment proceeds, donations and gifts to the authority.
Okoh said that this would cover the large number of vulnerable individuals who were not able to pay health insurance premiums.
“The new law will also work in line with state governments’ health insurance schemes by empowering them (state governments) to accredit primary and secondary healthcare facilities.
“It also ensures the enrollment of Nigerians in the scheme,” he said.
Okoh also said that parts of the provisions of the new law made health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians and legal residents.
Fielding questions from journalists after his presentation, the state coordinator urged enrollees to always avail NHIA with feedbacks of their experiences with healthcare providers.
He said that there were many hospitals involved in sharp practices to cheat enrollees of their rights to health care, adding that health insurance would not work without feedbacks from enrollees.
The Nigeria Health Insurance Authority Act 2022, now makes health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians, the Osun Coordinator of the NHIA, Mrs Nafisat Adekunle has said.
Adekunle made this known during an interactive forum with representatives of Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), health care facilities and Health Maintenance Organisation, on Thursday in Osogbo.
She explained that unlike under the old National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which made health insurance optional, the NHIA Act, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, now makes health insurance mandatory for all.
”The aim of the act is to enable Nigerians have access to affordable and quality health care.
”Under the NHIA act, all Nigerians, irrespective of whether they are self-employed, government workers, private workers, vulnerable groups, retirees, corps members, are adequately covered,” she said.
Adekunle said that the agency has embarked on continuous community mobilisation and sensitisation of people at the grassroots on the need for them to key into the health insurance.
She appealed to service providers and health management organisation to always treat the beneficiaries of the health scheme with respect and dignity.
Adekunle said the interactive forum was organised to intimate stakeholders with the NHIA Act. She said the NHIA act’s objective is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Also in his presentation, Mr Abiodun Adeyemo, the NHIA head of programmes, who spoke on the rights of enrollees of the NHIA, said beneficiaries of the health insurance have the right to easy access to quality healthcare without hindrance.
Adeyemo said that the beneficiaries also have the right to know the cost of drugs component for their treatment to ascertain the 10 per cent co-payment, among others.
According to him, under the act, there is a package called GIFSHIP- for Group, Family, or Individual social health insurance programme.
Adeyemo said the GIFSHIP was to ensure that all Nigerians, whether in formal or informal sector, individual or family, as well as private firm have access to quality and affordable health care.
Also, Dr Saheed Adeyemo, NHIA head of Standard and Quality Assurance, said that Osun had be chosen as one of the pilot states for NHIA medicine supply initiative.
Adeyemo said that the agency would continue to ensure that quality drugs were supplied and given to beneficiaries of NHIA by the service providers.
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), on Wednesday advised healthcare service providers against substandard services to enrollees in order to improve on their health status.
Mrs Mary Aliu, the Nasarawa State Coordinator of NHIA gave the advice in her opening remark at a NHIA Stakeholders’ Forum in Lafia.
She said that the authority would not condone sharp practices while urging service providers to discharge their duties without fear or favour.
The state coordinator said the forum was to educate and sensitise service providers and other stakeholders on the new NHIA Act and discuss way forward for improved health status of Nigerians.
“We have changed from National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
“The NHIA act was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in order to achieve universal health coverage as the Federal Government is committed to Nigerians improved health status.
“It is to ensure that every Nigerian have access to quality healthcare at a very affordable rate,” she said.
According to her, the purpose of NHIA is to address the issue of out of pocket payment for healthcare services, improve Nigerians poor health status and strengthen national healthcare delivery system.
Aliu also advised healthcare service providers to respect the rights and privileges of enrollees for improved health status.
She commended Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Director-General of NHIA for keying into different good health policies and programmes that have direct bearing on the health status of Nigerians.
The state coordinator said that NHIA would continue to partner companies on drug production in order to address issue of out of stock and to ensure the supply of quality drugs.
The state coordinator further assured of her continuous readiness to partner stakeholders and key into good health policies for improved health status of the people of the state and other Nigerians.
In his goodwill message, Dr Gaza Gwamna, the Executive Secretary, Nasarawa State Health Insurance Agency (NASHIA), urged Nigerians to embrace NHIA policies and programmes in the interest of their health.
Gwamna, represented by Mr Abdullahi Musa, NASHIA staff, expressed the agency’s readiness to partners stakeholders for quality healthcare service delivery in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the forum featured paper presentations on Rights and Privileges of an NHIA enrollee and other stakeholders by Mr Ernest Tarbo, Head of Department, NHIA ICT Department.
Others papers presented are the NHIA Medicine Supply Initiative, by Dr Gani Muhammad and Operations of the Group, Individual, Family Social Health Insurance Programme (GIFSHIP) by Mr Moses Abajara, NHIA Head of Internal Audit.
NAN also reports that Health Maintenance Organisations ( HMOs), Health Care Facilities ( HCFs), Nasarawa State Health Insurance Agency (NASHIA) security agencies, Federal MDAs among others attended the stakeholders’ forum .
YouthHubAfrica in collaboration with Christian Aid on Friday enrolled 200 vulnerable persons in Gwagwalada, Bwari and Waru communities into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Health Insurance Scheme.
Mr Rotimi Olawale ,Executive Director ,YouthHubAfrica, made this known at the handing-over ceremony of cards to beneficiaries in Waru ,Abuja .
Olawale said that the project was implemented to promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in FCT to enable them access quality health care for a period of 12 months for free.
“Health insurance coverage is low in Nigeria and people who are covered are mostly covered by the organisations they work for .
” However , people who work in the informal sector do not have such privilege, many of them do not believe that health can be free or could have their insurance covered.
“Most of them pay out of pocket and when they cannot pay they simply do not go to the hospitals and that is where the marginalisation comes to play ,” he said.
Olawale said the idea was to partner with the FCT Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to assist indigent people access quality health care.
” Our team went to the field with a pre-designed survey, the idea was to identify people who are below a certain level of earnings or marginalised persons would benefit the most from this health insurance scheme .
” We paid on their behalf and register them under the FCT Health Insurance Scheme .
“So today’s event is to present the registration card to the beneficiaries we hope that when they get registered in this service, they will be able to access services at the different hospitals, “he said.
Prof. Mohammed Sambo, Chief Executive Officer, FCT National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) , represented by Mr Greg Azubuke ,NHIA, FCT Coordinator ,commended YouthHubAfrica for the initiative.
Sambo said that the agency attached great importance to the gesture .
He said, “Health insurance is a situation whereby you can just walk into a facility of your choice and access the best possible medical attention without paying a dime .
“That is what we are here to do by the good will of YouthHubAfrica, they have been able to register 200 people from three communities in the FCT .
“By virtue of this registration, these 200 lucky people can easily walk into a hospital of their choice and be treated for whatever ailments ailments they may and walk out without paying a kobo.
”Sambo called on other citizens of goodwill to emulate the example set by YouthHubAfrica by visiting communities and picking certain numbers of people and make them access quality and affordable healthcare in hospital of their choice.
He said the burden should not be left to government alone because it takes collaborative efforts to tackle issues and urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity.
Mr Temitope Fashola, Country Director ,Christian Aid ,represented by Dorcas Asaolu, Health and Human Development Intern, said achieving universal health coverage meant that everybody has access to needed good quality healthcare without suffering financial hardship .
Fashola said that the LGA UHC Initiative project was born in 2020 to achieve healthcare coverage for all .
“Christian Aid Nigeria has over the course of two years taken the initiative from Nasarawa to Benue and the FCT .
” This handing over of the FCT Health Insurance Scheme cards to participants is in line with the UHC goal and built on adoption model to stimulate trust.
“This is a strong affirmation that with our joint efforts, we can push our cooperation in improving access to quality ,timely and affordable health care for all.
”The District Head of Waru ,Ibrahim Sarki ,thanked YouthHubAfrica for the gesture.
He said he had been a beneficiary of health insurance scheme in the past so he understood how much the organisation would have spent to grant his community members health insurance.
” I want to show my appreciation to YouthHubAfrica that on behalf of my people we are happy ,”he said
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) on Tuesday in Abuja said it has introduced a programme called “drug registered hitchhiking medicine supply”.
Prof. Mohammed Sambo, Director-General of NHIA, while briefing newsmen said the programme was to ensure the availability of drugs in the market and make them less expensive.
He said the National Health Bill which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari was a critical element of the nation’s development.
President Buhari had on May 21 signed the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 into law, with the new legislation repealing the National Health Insurance Scheme Act 2004. The President had during the signing said the new law makes provisions for the setting up of a trust fund.
The trust fund is to ensure the coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premium as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission.
Sambo said the drug registered hitchhiking medicine supply condition will ensure the availability of drugs in the market.
“It will also ensure that all the drugs are permitted in health insurance company system to bring down the cost of drugs,’’ he said.
Sambo said the introduction of the branded drugs under the NHIA drug supply initiative would address the perception that drugs prescribed for enrollees by health care providers are cheap, ineffective drugs.
He said that the NHIA Act brought renewed prospects for the delivery of effective health insurance in Nigeria, fundamentally resetting the ecosystem.
According to him, with the Act, Nigerian health insurance has become mandatory.
He said the Act empowered the authority to see to it that all Nigerians and legal residents have health insurance.
“This is a complete departure from the previous law that made health insurance optional.
“The authority will co-exist with state systems and other stakeholders.
“The law provides that NHIA will promote, regulate and integrate through the ecosystem.
“It also provided for the establishment of vulnerable Group Fund and outlines sources of funding for it,’’ Sambo said.
According to him, the law imposes a telecoms tax as a source of funding.
“Currently, the most important work before us is the strategic implementation of the NHIA Act for the benefit of Nigerians,’’ he said.
The D-G said that the recent visits of a high-level mission from the World Health Organsation (WHO) were as a result of the Act. He said a team of health-financing experts came and assessed the country’s preparedness.
“At the end they were satisfied and pledged their support in relevant areas.
“The team will help the country in the area of capacity-building and technology,’’ the NHIA director-general said.
Sambo also said the NHIA was discussing with relevant authorities in finance to enable the authority achieve its objectives.
He disclosed that the authority was also doing advocacy so that people would understand the implications and benefits of health insurance.
Sambo then urged the media to assist with proper education and advocacy on health insurance.
The Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WR), Walter Kazadi Mulombo, has underlined the organization's commitment to support Nigeria in accelerating the implementation of the recently enacted Health Insurance Act. Dr. Mulombo made the commitment during a high-level meeting with the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, the Director General, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Professor Mohammed Sambo and a team of the WHO Health Financing Mission.
WHO delegates in Geneva, Regional Office for Africa and Nigeria.
The first high-level WHO Health Financing Mission to Nigeria, led by Dr. Joseph Kutzin, was scheduled to provide sustainable health financing support to the country towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the health security, while carrying out targeted advocacy activities to accelerate the NHIA's operationalization.
Law that includes the Fund for Vulnerable Groups (VGF).
This is in line with WHO's goal of ensuring that all people and communities receive the quality health services they need without financial hardship.
Dr. Mulombo said President Buhari's signing of the NHIA Bill will make health insurance mandatory for all legal residents in Nigeria and expand coverage to more than 83 million poor and vulnerable people.
He expressed optimism that the government will prioritize the immediate appropriation of the Special Intervention Fund in the Law to establish the Fund for Vulnerable Groups.
“Indeed, the task of ensuring that all citizens have access to the quality health care they need without falling into poverty is a deliberate political decision to achieve the cardinal objectives of population coverage, service coverage, and financial protection.
I have no doubt that in a large federal nation like Nigeria, this milestone appropriation of the Special Intervention Fund will be achieved in fiscal year 2023,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr. Mustapha thanked WHO as Nigeria's leading development partner in health and highlighted WHO's invaluable guidance, particularly on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“WHO has shown that it is an organization that cares and attends to the health needs of people.
As for the NHIA, let me congratulate the Director General for his tenacity and determination to make this Act a reality.
I want to thank the WHO and other partners who supported the drafting of the bill.
This modest attempt has brought basic health insurance coverage to vulnerable people, and making it mandatory will go a long way in helping our people manage their income and stay in work in terms of the depressed economy we are witnessing.” The SGF also expressed the government's commitment to allocate the Special Intervention Fund (SIF) in the 2023 national budget for the establishment of the Vulnerable Groups Fund (VGF).
“No family in Nigeria has survived financially by caring for their own cancer patients.
Therefore, the health of our people is the first of our priorities despite the conflicting demands”, he stated.
During his promotional visit to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister commended the unique role WHO is playing in the health sector in Nigeria and appreciated its strong commitment and steadfastness to improve health care for all Nigerians at all times.
Earlier, the mission had visited the NHIA headquarters, where Professor Sambo said that although Nigeria has operated health insurance for the last twenty-three years with low citizen coverage because it was not mandatory, the new law has the potential to accelerate the achievement of universal health.
Coverage for all Nigerians.
The NHIA Director General added that WHO's support so far has been crucial and that the Mission is the first of its kind in the organization's history.
“I have been reliably informed that this is the first high-level mission to the National Health Insurance Scheme Authority now since its inception and I have no doubt that this commitment from the highest and best financing experts in the WHO health will produce credible results.
It cannot be denied that health is one of the critical elements of development.
With the new law and implementation modalities, the NHIA is ready to soon achieve universal health coverage for all Nigerians,” he stated.
The Mission also met with the Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, the Chairman of the House Health Services Committee, the Honorable Tanko Sununu, the Director General of the Budget, Dr. Ben Akabueze , and Key Partners for Health Development in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the NHIA bill into law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in May 2022.
Dr Uche Ojinmah, the National President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has urged the Federal Government to consider privatising the nation’s hospitals for them to perform optimally.
Ojinmah told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja that this had become necessary for both the teaching and public hospitals to guarantee the needed fund for their effective operation.
“As far back as 2014, we wrote a compendium on how to fix these teaching hospitals and public hospitals and there are two options if the government wants to fund it properly.
“Go for 15 per cent of the national budget for the health sector and also release the budgeted funds because budgeting is different from cash backing.
“So if they can fund it well and release the necessary cash to back it up then these institutions can come up to speed.
” He said that with this, the government could demand accountability while the other option was privatisation.
In this case, Ojinmah said that it could be outright privatisation, where the hospitals could be fixed and then sold.
“Or we can go for graded privatisation where they sell 51 per cent of the shares.
Of course they should fix it up a bit so that it could fetch some money.
“They get a core investor or sell 51 per cent of the shares to the core investor; if the government does not want to leave totally it can keep a certain percentage, maybe 30 per cent so that with that they can still moderate the price so that we don’t go for full gains to the detriment of the people.
“Then the remaining 19 per cent should be sold to the workers to retain the hospital so that they know they have a stake in this business and they will give their all so that is not all about salary.
“So now, having a representative in that board as government will help to moderate the price so that there is that human face which is what a doctor brings to heading a hospital.
He added that boosting the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) would bring more people into the health insurance net and give them better service at reduced costs.
“So if you privatise these hospitals and you channel the money, you would have budgeted for them every year for the next five years into the NHIA to capture more people under that, it will make it easier for them to assess those hospitals.
“With this, it will be easier for the people to get treatment and if you do that and personnel are well paid, everybody knows you are here to do your job, the major shareholder can decide that he wants to buy automated equipment, you cannot stop him.
“However, as it stands today, in Nigeria right now, the way we are running it, healthcare delivery is a social service and not a profit service .
” On how the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) would fare under such privatisation arrangement, the NMA president said it was time to divest Federal Government’s interest in PHCs as running PHCs should be the business of local governments.
According to him, many of them no longer function properly due to lack of maintenance and personnel, a situation that proper motivation of health personnel will address.
“If you want me to leave Abuja as a doctor to run a PHC somewhere in the rural area, I think that there should be extra allowance for that.
“It makes simple business sense to say that those going out there should be given rural posting allowance that is heavy, so that they can attract personnel to the PHCs but the government does not want to do that.
A delegation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Mission for Health Financing to Nigeria, says the UN agency is committed to supporting the implementation of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act. The technical officer of the mission, Fahdi Dkhimi, said this when he led a WHO team and officials of NHIA to pay a courtesy call on the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Deputy Director, Media and Public Relations of the Ministry, Mr Ahmadu Chindaya, on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to Chindaya, the visiting team also discussed possible ways to effectively operationalise the Act for the benefits of Nigerians.
Dkhaimi also quoted Ehanire as welcoming the gesture from WHO, adding that the operationalisation of the Act faced some challenges such as infrastructural, human resource and investment patterns.
“Most of the investments have gone to the very large visible hospitals which are not much utilised at the expense of small primary healthcare centres in the rural areas.” Ehanire, however, solicited investment and higher level of care at the sub urban level in order to achieve universal health coverage.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Act was recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It aims at, in collaboration with state health insurance agencies, empowering the NHIA to provide health insurance for all Nigerians through a mandatory mechanism.
It also sets to establish a Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF), indicating the various sources from which funding would be drawn.
The Technical Officer on Health Financing at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria, Dr Francis Ukwuije, says the global body mission in Nigeria will boost the health coverage in the country.
Ukwuije said this at a meeting between the Health Financing Mission of WHO in Nigeria and Prof. Mohammed Sambo, Director-General, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) on Tuesday in Abuja.
He noted that Nigeria had very high out of pocket expenditure of more 70 per cent on health.
Ukwuije said that the country had more than 50 per cent of the population and in some states up to 80 per cent that needed healthcare.
He said that Nigeria’s population had fallen into poverty due to ill health or due to payment for healthcare.
He said the efforts at implementing compulsory health insurance in Nigeria was as important as advancing the development of the country.
“I wish to state that as WHO, we have the mandate to support member states in their priority areas.
“We can see that financing health insurance is one of the accelerators that the country has chosen and also primary healthcare towards universal health coverage,’’ he said.
According to him, WHO mission to the NHIA is useful for the reasons that, first-it would help to support the NHIA and energize it towards operationalizing the new law to gain the benefits therein.
“Secondly, to ensure that we have good representation and high level advocacy to the government of Nigeria and to those who make the laws and policies in the country.
“Thirdly, to finally to support the country in mopping up areas of health financing for the attainment of the Universal health coverage,” he said.
Speaking, Sambo, said the National Health Bill assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari was critical elements of nation’s development.
Buhari had on May 21, signed the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 into law; the new legislation repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme Act 2004.
The President during the signing said the new law makes provisions for the setup of a trust fund “to ensure the coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission”.
The NHIA director-general said that the bill signed by the President was not only a big commitment to achieving his vision of the next level agenda but also a desire to ensure healthcare delivery.
“Population of Nigeria as a symbol of art and health is one of the critical elements of development,’’ Sambo said.
Sambo said the bill recently updated by the president was the trajectory and roadmap for attainment healthcare services in the country.
“What is left is how will health insurance agents partner to support government gesture by ensuring that the effort not only operationalize but has been put to the best use for the teeming population of Nigeria,’’ Sambo said.
the director-general said that the framework would enhance coverage of informal sector which recommendation, essentially to the covenant for the vulnerable segment of the population.
“We need to ensure that this law will look to constitute about two million population which has given an opportunity to establish what is called vulnerable efficiency activities,’’ Sambo said.
Country Representative of the WHO in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Molumbo, said the 3-day engagement was an opportunity for them to interact with the leadership of NHIA to look into ways of implementing the NHIA bill signed into this year.
According to him, WHO believes that it is the best way to go if Nigeria is to achieve the universal health coverage in Nigeria.
“It is a good opportunity for us and it is a privilege to be part of this high level advocacy meeting to review strategies on how we will operationalize this health insurance authority bill.
“Also how WHO can offer support to strengthen NHIA to deliver in its mandated.
“ We also want to use this opportunity to interact with as many stakeholders as possible to enable the NHIA to drive the universal health coverage in Nigeria.
Mulumba said the origination would do all that was necessary to meet high level government official and put across their message.
“ For financing in Nigeria, we need to refer out of pocket expenditures in the country, this is the right way to go and we will work to support authority in that respect,’’ he said.(
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) have committed to free medicare for youth corps members under the NHIA programme.Information about the commitment is contained in a statement issued by Mr Eddy Megwa, the Director, Press and Public Relations of the NYSC in Abuja on Tuesday.Megwa stated that the NYSC Director-General, Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Fadah and the Director-General of NHIA, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, made the commitment during an advocacy visit by the former.Fadah, who thanked the agency for the enrollment of youth corps members into the former National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), said there was the need for adequate medicare for every NYSC member.He said “I am pleading for continuous support, especially in manning our clinics for the benefit of our youth corps members during their service year.“I solicit your assistance to have a hitch-free orientation course.”Responding, Sambo said that the collaboration between the two organisations which dated back to 2014, would enhance the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for corps members.He said the NHIA had made frantic efforts to implement programme for the benefit of NYSC members.Sambo said “we are happy that having gone through a lot of efforts, we launched a programme and the coverage of youth corps members on the NHIA is on course.“We will have a very successful collaboration for the benefit of youth corps members.”Sambo added that 83 million vulnerable Nigerians would be registered under the NHIA.He expressed optimism that Nigeria would be able to attain UHC before 2030, saying a total of 125 NYSC members were currently serving at the NHIA.