NHIS supports 17 states to enroll vulnerable population

Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) says the scheme has provided support to 17 state governments through the Basic Heath Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), to enroll the vulnerable in the society.

Sambo made the disclosure at a 3-day Strategic Retreat of NHIS organised for State Social Health Insurance Schemes (SSHIS) and other key stakeholders on Thursday in Goshen City, Nasarawa State.

He said that part of the mandate of NHIS is to support the states to establish SSHIS and also provide some fund for them to enroll the vulnerable population.

“We have BHCPF; we just started, the first disbursement was done in the 4th quarter, 2019.

“Already, we have disbursed monies to 17 states in Nigeria so that they can enroll the vulnerable segment of the population,’’ he said.

Sambo said the retreat would fine-tune framework of how the health insurance could be under one roof and used towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC),’’ he said.

According to him, state and local governments are supposed to join the scheme when the NHIS started but because it was not mandatory they did not join.

Sambo said that only employees of the Federal Government and those in private sector were participating in the scheme, noting that the trend led to decentralisation of the scheme.

He explained that under the new initiative would bring enrollees of the NHIS and SSHIS under one roof to ensure a central coordinating platform.

The Executive Secretary said that the initiative was aimed at ensuring that health insurance operates under one system with proper coordination and unified data.

Sambo added that it would also make stakeholders contribute quality decisions towards achieving UHC, based on knowledge of those who were statutorily covered under the formal sector and those not yet covered.

“This retreat brings all the actors from federal and state levels under the health insurance scheme to come together to create a platform that will enable us to move towards UHC.

“The NHIS is operating a 2004 law which is solely focused on the formal sector; all the money coming to the NHIS is from contributions from the salary of the public sector workers.

“Even if the NHIS is performing at its best, it would not have covered more than the people in the formal sector in Nigeria, ‘’ the Executive Secretary said.

In addition, he said the law had been amended to review the challenges in the sector and strengthen the scheme to achieve its mandate.

“The position of the amendment now is that because the last senate had passed it, it was not assented to by the president and so the National Assembly (NASS) has re-presented it.

“In fact it has gone to the second reading and they have called for public hearing next week.”

Also speaking, Dr Niyi Oginni, the Chairman, Forum of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), State Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria, said the initiative would  enhance coordination  of the NHIS scheme.

Ognni said the initiative would also enhance regulation of health insurance in appropriate manner.

“We are looking at a roof of health insurance under one roof, what constitute the lintel, what constitutes the pillars and what are the things in the foundation.

“So that when we look at all the components,  we can have a very solid house – health insurance under one roof scheme,’’ he said.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NHIS was established under Act 35 of 1999 by the Federal Government to enhance access to quality healthcare service delivery to the people.

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