State Social Health Insurance Schemes Support Nigeria’s UHC Drive – Official

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Universal Health Coverage UHC

Chairman of the Forum of CEOs of State Social Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria and managing director of the Anambra State Health Insurance Agency, Dr. Simeon Onyemaechi has expressed optimism about Nigeria’s progress towards achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

In an interview with Science Nigeria over the weekend in Abuja, Onyemaechi highlighted the significant strides made in establishing state social health insurance schemes across the country, excluding Rivers State.

Onyemaechi emphasised that these schemes, introduced in 2016, aim to deliver affordable and accessible healthcare to all Nigerians, addressing the challenges of the country’s high out-of-pocket health expenditure. He noted that nearly 70 per cent of healthcare costs in Nigeria were directly paid by individuals, leading to limited access and financial hardships.

Since the inception of the state social health insurance schemes, Onyemaechi reported that over 5.5 million Nigerians have gained access to healthcare through various programs, including the formal sector, informal sector and equity programs. Additionally, the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) has benefited approximately 2 million vulnerable Nigerians at primary health centres across the states.

This surge in health insurance coverage, rising from less than three per cent in 2016 to around seven per cent today, marks a significant achievement. Onyemaechi credited the Forum of CEOs of State Social Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria for playing a crucial role in fostering peer learning, support and strategic engagement among subnational health insurance agencies. He highlighted the collective efforts of the forum in contributing to the progress made towards universal health coverage in the country.

Despite the strides, Onyemaechi acknowledged that there is still a considerable journey ahead to achieve the universal health coverage goal by 2030. He referenced the report of the Lancet Commission, which recommended the establishment of state social health insurance schemes as a solution to Nigeria’s health financing gap. To maintain momentum and continue improving healthcare access for all Nigerians, Onyemaechi stressed the importance of keeping universal health coverage on the political agenda.

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