NHIS engages Benue, Sokoto Governors on health coverage
Determined to justify the nation’s confidence in it as the main hub for the realisation of universal health coverage, as well as taking forward the objective of unlocking the potentials of the nation’s human capital for national growth and development, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) took its awareness and demand generation campaign to Benue and Sokoto states recently.
Speaking at the Government House, Makurdi, during an advocacy visit to Governor Samuel Ortom, the Ag. Executive Secretary of NHIS, Mr. Femi Akingbade described the latest initiative in the Scheme’s targeted strategies, the State Supported Social Health Insurance Programme (SSHIP), as a pragmatic move to decentralise health insurance in the country, by encouraging state governments to assume responsibility for providing health insurance for their citizens.
According to him, “the status of health as an item on the Concurrent Legislative List has continued to be a major hindrance to rapid penetration of health insurance in the country”, as states are not bound to legislations and policies on health matters by the federal government.
Furthermore, Akingbade observed that states have been known to be hesitant with regards to releasing their funds to a Federal Government central pool, adding that the need to allay concerns in this context propelled NHIS to come up with a programme design that would give states autonomy to create own their health insurance agencies.
The programme provides that the state will have a single pool of funds that would be equitable and domiciled in the state, while NHIS will effect counterpart funding to match such funds.
The NHIS boss said the programme, among other advantages, has a high potential of helping states identify the peculiar healthcare needs of their people, thereby facilitating the provision of particular care for target groups.
He noted however, that for health insurance to thrive under this programme, Primary Healthcare Centres must be well distributed across the states, as most people in need of healthcare do not go beyond the primary level.
Akingbade used the occasion to assure willing states that NHIS has developed a draft legal frame work that governors can present to the House of Assembly of their states for passage into law, with due consideration for the social, economic and cultural ecosystems of each state.
He therefore called on the Benue State Government to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the Scheme and connect the people to the possibility of improved healthcare that will translate to better quality of life.
In his response, the Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom expressed gratitude for the great offer presented to the state by the Scheme.
According to him, his administration recognizes that only a healthy citizenry can create the level of wealth that will make the state the economic and social haven that is the desire of all. This, he said, is one of the principles that guide government policy-making and action under his administration.
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