The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has announced that two million impoverished and disadvantaged Nigerians have been enrolled as beneficiaries of a comprehensive basic minimum package of health services through the state health insurance agencies (SHIAs).
The agency’s head of policy, planning and international collaboration division, Dr. Kurfi Abubakar revealed this information on Tuesday during a two-day joint learning agenda (JLA) on universal health coverage (UHC), health financing and budget advocacy.
Abubakar also stated that the agency is actively working towards extending coverage to 83 million vulnerable Nigerians under the Compulsory Social Health Insurance (CSHI) programme.
He emphasised that the full implementation of the NHIA Act would alleviate the burden of out-of-pocket expenditures for healthcare among Nigerians. He expressed the commitment of the country to achieving universal health coverage and stated that the Authority is prepared to implement the Act and make it accessible to all Nigerians.
“With the NHIA, our efforts to address the high incidence of poverty resulting from out-of-pocket healthcare expenses and provide health insurance for all categories of Nigerians by 2030 are now more attainable than ever before,” he said.
Capacity development lead at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)’s Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), Dr. Sakinatu Dan’agalan explained that the implementation aims to establish fully functional primary healthcare facilities in every ward.
“We aim to have at least 30 per cent of all wards equipped with such facilities within the next three years, 70 per cent within five years, and 100 per cent within seven years,” she stated.
Dan’agalan further mentioned that the BHCPF will also facilitate the establishment of three fully functional public or private secondary healthcare facilities in each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“At least 50 per cent of all states should have these facilities within the next three years, and all states should have them within five years,” she added.
She highlighted that the BHCPF will additionally contribute to the development of effective emergency medical response services in all 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
The executive director of Gem Hub Initiative and co-convener of the Joint Learning Agenda for UHC in Nigeria, stated that the JLA aims to promote the uptake of health insurance at both national and sub-national levels. This initiative seeks to provide financial risk protection for the most vulnerable individuals in the country.
“Our initial focus is on two states, Lagos and Kano, with plans to expand to other states as resources become available. We also aim to enhance civil society organizations’ understanding of the NHIA, its implementation guidelines, partnership opportunities, and provide a platform for engagement among various stakeholders,” she explained.
Pitan mentioned that the JLA overview will also develop civil society scorecards to monitor the national and subnational implementation of the NHIA Act.
The programme manager of the Legislative Initiative for Sustainable Development (LISDEL), Mr. Ademuyiwa Damilola highlighted the valuable impact of the legislature on health system strengthening in the country. He emphasised that a country’s health system cannot function effectively without good governance in terms of policy-making, fund allocation, oversight and accountability mechanisms.
The executive director of Journalists Against AIDS and co-convener of the Joint Learning Agenda for UHC in Nigeria, Ms. Olayide Akanni mentioned that the overview aims to secure commitments for the inclusion of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent, and elderly health plus nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) services, including family planning consumables, in the national and state health insurance schemes.
Akanni also emphasised that the overview will promote civil society organisations’ understanding of the current priorities, gaps and opportunities for collaboration within the state health insurance schemes.