By Ndidi Chukwu
Staff of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) have been trained and charged to brace up for their strategic roles in the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, expected to be kick-started by the federal government shortly.
The Overseeing Director/Chief Executive of the Scheme, Mr. Ben Omogo gave the charge at a meeting of the Zonal and State Co-ordinators of the Scheme from the South-East, South-West and South-South Zones of the country.
The meeting, which took place in Owerri, the Imo state capital, was designed to upgrade the capacity of staff of the Scheme for their roles in the implementation of the fund.
Mr. Omogo confirmed that the necessary approvals have been secured, and appropriate machineries set in motion for the commencement of the provision of basic primary healthcare to Nigerians under the fund in the pilot states of Abia, Niger, Osun, Yobe, Katsina, Edo and the Federal Capital Territory.
The NHIS boss described the role of the Scheme in the process as critical, considering that NHIS is one of the gateways for the channelisation of the fund, whereby a half of one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund would be processed through Health Insurance Agencies of States, under the management of NHIS, for the provision of basic primary healthcare for the beneficiaries.
He said the need to be ready with required skills and competences for effective interface with the State Health Insurance agencies, informed the approval of the capacity update, inspite of the dwindling resources of the Scheme.
Mr. Omogo expressed the hope that the workshop will prepare participants for the roles of NHIS in the evolving ecosystem with states, deepen their understanding of the concept of health financing and the legal framework needed to execute health financing reforms through the State Social Health Insurance Programme (SSHIP), as well as the necessary institutional arrangements required to support implementation of the SSHIP.
He therefore challenged participants to assert themselves as competent professionals, and justify the confidence of the federal government and the general public, as all eyes are set on effective implementation of BHCPF.
Mr. Omogo used the occasion to remind top staff of NHIS of the core mandate of the Scheme, which is the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, while stressing that NHIS was not a financially bouyant institution as wrongfully perceived, adding that the pool of funds in its custody belongs to contributors.
The Chief Executive, who reminded all that he was only operating in an acting capacity, lauded staff of the organisation for the remarkable cooperation he has received on his assignment so far.
A second part of the workshop for Zonal and State Coordinators in North West, North East and North Central states is expected to follow soon.