WHO mission in Nigeria to boost universal health coverage

By Franca Ofili

The Technical Officer on Health Financing at the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria, Dr Francis Ukwuije, says the global body mission in Nigeria will boost the health coverage in the country.

Ukwuije said this at a meeting between the Health Financing Mission of WHO in Nigeria and Prof. Mohammed Sambo, Director-General, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) on Tuesday in Abuja.

He noted that Nigeria had very high out of pocket expenditure of more than 70 per cent on health.

Ukwuije said that the country had more than 50 per cent of the population and in some states up to 80 per cent that needed healthcare.

He said that Nigeria’s population had fallen into poverty due to ill health or due to payment for healthcare.

He said the efforts at implementing compulsory health insurance in Nigeria was as important as advancing the development of the country.

“I wish to state that as WHO, we have the mandate to support member states in their priority areas.

“We can see that financing health insurance is one of the accelerators that the country has chosen and also primary healthcare towards universal health coverage,” he said.

According to him, WHO mission to the NHIA is useful for the reasons that, first-it would help to support the NHIA and energize it towards operationalizing the new law to gain the benefits therein.

“Secondly, to ensure that we have good representation and high level advocacy to the government of Nigeria and to those who make the laws and policies in the country.

“Thirdly, to finally support the country in mopping up areas of health financing for the attainment of the Universal health coverage,” he said.

Speaking, Sambo, said the National Health Bill assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari was critical elements of nation’s development.

Buhari had on May 21, signed the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 into law; the new legislation repeats the National Health Insurance Scheme Act 2004.

The President during the signing said the new law makes provisions for the setup of a trust fund “to ensure the coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission”.

The NHIA director-general said that the bill signed by the President was not only a big commitment to achieving his vision of the next level agenda but also a desire to ensure healthcare delivery.

“Population of Nigeria as a symbol of art and health is one of the critical elements of development,” Sambo said.

Sambo said the bill recently updated by the president was the trajectory and roadmap for attainment healthcare services in the country.

“What is left is how will health insurance agents partner to support government gesture by ensuring that the effort not only operationalize but has been put to the best use for the teeming population of Nigeria,” Sambo said.

the director-general said that the framework would enhance coverage of informal sector which recommendation, essentially to the covenant for the vulnerable segment of the population.

“We need to ensure that this law will look to constitute about two million population which has given an opportunity to establish what is called vulnerable efficiency activities,” Sambo said.

Country Representative of the WHO in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Molumbo said the 3-day engagement was an opportunity for them to interact with the leadership of NHIA to look into ways of implementing the NHIA bill signed into this year.

According to him, WHO believes that it is the best way to go if Nigeria is to achieve the universal health coverage in Nigeria.

“It is a good opportunity for us and it is a privilege to be part of this high level advocacy meeting to review strategies on how we will operationalize this health insurance authority bill.

“Also how WHO can offer support to strengthen NHIA to deliver in its mandated.

“ We also want to use this opportunity to interact with as many stakeholders as possible to enable the NHIA to drive the universal health coverage in Nigeria.

Mulumba said the origination would do all that was necessary to meet high level government official and put across their message.

“For financing in Nigeria, we need to refer out of pocket expenditures in the country, this is the right way to go and we will work to support authority in that respect,” he said.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng )

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Edited by Isaac Aregbesola

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