The Nigerian Senate is reviewing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act to ensure that it is made mandatory for all Nigerians.The law making body is also working to ensure the subsidisation of premium for poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay for the health insurance.
The Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Senator Olanrewaju Adeyemi Tejuoso, disclosed this at a forum with civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the health sector organized by the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage in Abuja, yesterday.
He further disclosed that in order to ensure that Nigeria attains the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the Senate has passed a resolution mandating the Appropriation Committee of the Senate to make provision for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) in the 2018 budget.
It would be recalled that in 2014, the National Health Act was signed into law and one per cent consolidated fund was proposed for the improvement of Primary Health Care (PHC) services through the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF). However, since them, it has not been implemented.
“Last year, the National Council on Health approved the Basic Guidelines for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, only two weeks ago, the Senate passed a resolution to implement the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, the appropriation committee has been charged to do this.
“However, there is the need to translate this policy commitment to quality and affordable health services delivery for the common man.“Health insurance as an important financing mechanism to finance the health care needs of the people, it is not currently ed to provide care for the common man in Nigeria.
“The uncertainty of disease or illness has accentuated the need for insurance and it works on certain fundamental principles- the principles of cross subsidization and solidarity where the rich support the poor, the well support the sick and the haves support the haves not.
“This can only be achieve through making the health insurance mandatory and subsidization for those unable to afford insurance premiums”, he said.
Speaking, after a rally by the CSOs and NGOs, head of the UHC section in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, said that attaining UHC needs collective efforts of all Nigerians, as it is a long-term project.
“It is a collective action and not only for the Federal Ministry of Health. We cannot wake up one day and begin to change indices.“The actions we need to take that will take us to the desired level include among other things, making sure that we get the additional financing for the health.
“That is why we try to liaise with the legislators to make sure that the one per cent consolidated revenue fund enters the 2018 budget going forward.”
“That means that in addition to the annual budget, we have additional financing to move our agenda forward. We are making sure the PHCs are functional,” she further explained.