SOME Nigerians have called for more enlightenment on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to enable more people, especially the poor, to access it and improve their health.
In interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday, the respondents stressed the need for improved access to healthcare by the citizens.
Dr Nkechi Akonna, a gynaecologist, described health as a basic human right and urged the government to ensure that the poor enjoyed health insurance.
Akonna advised the government to conduct an economic evaluation and research to ensure quality health insurance scheme for the people.
“Government must go to the people and ask them how much they will be willing to pay for a good bouquet of health services in a year.
“It has to be what the people can pay or afford.
“Secondly, advocacy must continue; they must gain the trust of the people by assuring them that when they pay they will get the services.
“It must also be backed up by legislation.
The government must sign a law for the scheme so that even if the government leaves any other government coming in is bound by law to continue doing that,” she said.
Akonna stressed that people must understand the concept of health insurance.
“It is a risk pooling of funds and the higher the population, the lower the risk because it is spread thinly across the huge population.
“The more the people in the health insurance scheme, the less the risk for everybody and so what you have contributed will be enough to provide the care and also be enough for health services provider to make a profit,” she said.
Funmi Adebayo, a teacher with a private school, said that Nigeria was ripe for full coverage of national health insurance.
She said that the government should take responsibility to achieve health coverage for the poor and the marginalised in society.
Adebayo said if Nigeria adopted a community-based health insurance scheme, “then it is on the right track toward attaining universal health coverage.
“We want a health system that will work; we also want the government to put the health needs of the people on the front burner,” she said.
Dr Abu Abdullahi, a sociologist, said the current health situation in the country was not encouraging and as such government must act to make life more meaningful for the citizens, especially the poor.
Abdullahi said Nigerians should have access to quality health, adding that the government owed it a duty to the people to make that happen.
“It is important for the government to look out for its citizens,’’ he said.
Nigeria’s health insurance scheme currently run by NHIS is enjoyed by workers in the public service, especially employees of the Federal Government and members of their families.
There is provision for private subscription to the scheme whereby an enrollee pays an annual charge to benefit but few are aware of the arrangement.
A beneficiary of NHIS pays 10 per cent of charges for medical services for areas covered by the scheme.
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