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Expert calls for NHIS overhaul to cut healthcare cost

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Elochukwu Adibo, a Consultant Biomedical Scientist, on Saturday advised the Federal Government to overhaul the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to reduce the out-of-pocket (OOPs) expenditures of Nigerians.

Adibo, who is also the Laboratory Director at a private diagnostics and medical research firm, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to him, the scheme has not addressed the needs of the low income earners in the country.

“Nigerians deserve more. Nigerians deserve to have access to healthcare.

“Somebody is ill; he needs an MRI, he needs a CT brain and the doctors are helpless.

“You’re telling a patient who needs to pay like N40,000 to get a CT or N70,000 to get an MRI and you know this patient cannot even buy soap to bathe.

“You’re looking at him dying and you’re just doing some palliative things, which you know is not adding up.

“Straight investigation tells you where you’re going.

“You need to bring in the specialist to do what they need to do and the patient is fine.’’

Adibo urged the government to set up a special health insurance fund, to be managed by trustees, who would ensure that more people had access to healthcare.

He further ured the government to establish a pilot scheme where people would contribute an annual fee of N1,000 that would guarantee them access to at least health cover worth N50,000.

“That will take care of minor surgical procedures, basic antenatal, delivery and management of malaria, diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and common ailments.’’

He urged the federal government to reassess the NHIS and come up with strategies to reduce OOPs to about 40 per cent.

“Until the OOPs expenditures start reducing to at least 40 per cent, which means the insurance taking care of people up to halfway.

“Then, we know that the healthcare in Nigeria is getting to where it should be,’’ he said.

Adibo applauded the Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS), which he said had taken people in all strata of the economy into consideration.

“The scheme looks laudable because the managers have tried to involve all the groups including artisans, traders,’’ he said.

NAN recalls that the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, recently told newsmen at a Media and Communication Healthcare Financing Training that the scheme would begin soon.

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