By Ndidichukwu Odoh
Nigeria’s current Health Insurance Coverage of 5% of the total population has been described as unacceptable by the Developing-8 Health and Social Protection (D-8 HSP) Program. The D-8 HSP said it is time for Nigeria to focus on innovative ways of funding health to improve coverage and support the government reduce out-of-pocket services which worsens already existing financial burden on Nigerian citizens.
The Head and Special Adviser to the D-8 HSP, Dr. Ado Muhammad in a courtesy visit to the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Dr. Muhammad Sambo said access to quality, timely and cost effective health care for all is key to achieving Universal Health Coverage.
Ado said the goal of the D-8 HSP is to provide a better standard of living to everyone living in Nigeria and other D-8 member countries stating that provision and access to quality health care is one way to ensure social protection which will lift people out of poverty.
He said the D-8 HSP recognizes the National Health Insurance Scheme as a critical stakeholder in achieving UHC for Nigeria.
“we need to begin the consideration for effectiveness and efficiency for Nigeria to improve health coverage and this is possible is we pay attention to other sources of funding for health. There are religious rites and contributions that we can pull funds from and invest them to health to support the poor who cannot afford the cost of health care. The reality is that health is expensive and we must use our resources to make it available to those who cannot afford it” Said Ado
Ado also assured the NHIs of the D-8 support to the scheme to improve health coverage and make good progress towards UHC by 2030 adding that the D-8 will also ensure social protection for women and children.
In his response, Dr. Sambo commended the D-8 HSP and said the challenge with improvement in health coverage in Nigeria is that most people are living below poverty line and it has been difficult to increase coverage.
“Every Nigerian desire to have access to quality health and be insured to get equitable and accessible care anytime, due to poverty, a woman who has 500 naira and has to make a choice between feeding her children and buying drugs will buy food first for her children, we are considering an innovative plan which will provide care to the less privileged without cost” said Sambo who assured the D-8 of the Scheme’s commitment to the partnership to make sure no one is left behind.
The partnership will commence with the signing of a written Memorandum of Understanding, technical support and learning exchange between the two organizations.