NMA seeks clear strategy for NHIA implementation

The National President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, has called for a clear-cut strategy to implement the National Health Insurance Act.

Ojinmah made the call on Tuesday during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

According to him, transforming the health insurance scheme into an authority has made it mandatory for

all Nigerians to be enrolled and served, which is a good development.

He said, “we have been calling for this. Let health insurance be made mandatory for Nigerians and this is a good development.

“However, what we are suggesting is that the Federal Government should work out a modality for implementing it.

“For me, no child should be registered into any primary school, whether public or private, if the parents don’t have health insurance. It will help a lot.

“You cannot also say that for you to register for a Permanent Voter Card to vote, you must show evidence of your health insurance.

“It is important but Nigerians don’t understand it but those that have joined will tell you the benefit of it,” he added.

Ojinmah said that one of the benefits of having health insurance is getting healthcare delivery at a paltry sum.

“So, that those outside the scheme say it’s not working is a Nigerian thing, but we are telling them from NMA that it is working and it can get better.”

The NMA president also said that the new Act would help in solving the problem of Health Maintenance Organisations.

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He said that though there were improvements to be made in that regard according to the Act, it would ensure that money got to the hands of the service provider, which was a problem in the former scheme.

Commenting on the funds that would be made available to treat vulnerable people, Ojinmah said it was a welcome development, but added that those who fell into that category needed to be classified and labelled clearly for them to benefit from the fund.

“The vulnerable fund is one of the things that impressed me but we need to have a clear-cut definition of who will be called vulnerable in our society so that if someone homeless is ill, they can benefit from that fund.

“So, with all these changes, I look forward to us having good health insurance in Nigeria.”

He also commended the fact that the dragnet had been expanded to bring in those in the formal and informal sectors of the nation’s economy but added that more needed to be done to encourage participation.

“They need to bring in all this our people like National Council for Women Society to help them in enlightening women because childbearing is involved.

“If they understand and push their husbands, they will be more interested.

“Yes, some people will tell you, but I don’t get sick, so why should I pay, they forget that one day, the man who got sick today may not have been sick for a long time.

“So people need to have that mental position disabused that insurance does not mean you must use it.

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“It only creates a safety net for you when you need it and for every day you pay, you are helping the society because someone else is benefiting,’’ he added.

NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari on May 19, signed the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 into law, repealing the National Health Insurance Scheme that came into existence in 2004.

The Act empowers the NHIA to promote, regulate and integrate health insurance schemes, and improve and harness private sector participation in the provision of healthcare services.

It is expected to assist the authority in achieving Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians.

The Act also made provision for the establishment of the Vulnerable Group Fund to provide finance for the provision of health services to vulnerable people. 

(NAN)