The Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr Akin Sodipo has shown concern over the perception of Nigerians toward National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, calling on the federal government to do the needful to reverse the declining trend of Nigerians losing fate in the Scheme.
Sodipo, who expressed his worry in Ibadan on Tuesday at a press conference, held to kick-start a week-long annual event to celebrate medical and dental practitioners in the country, noted that NHIS was a vital tool that could help in the attainment of the Universal Health Coverage.
Stressing the need to ensure the improvement of enrollment to the scheme, which is currently less than five per cent, the NMA Chairman said, the event christened the “2018 Physicians Week” with a theme, “Universal Health Coverage- Leaving no one behind”, was to run from October 21 to 27.
According to him, the event is “in recognition of the sacrifices and dedication to the wellness of their immediate communities and the Nation at large, and to also look at those factors that militate against the provision of effective healthcare by the Nigerian doctors.”
Sodipo pointed it out that the theme was chosen after analyzing key issues affecting the nation’s healthcare delivery system vis-à-vis quality of lives of Nigerians and in line with the aims and objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals 2015.
He said UHC meant that all people and communities could use promotional, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of those services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
His words “The healthcare delivery in our country is still largely out of pocket which constitutes about 70 per cent of our health expenditure as opposed to the recommended 30-40, abysmal low coverage by NHIS which is still less than five percent, poor budgetary allocation to health (less than 5 percent of the total budget), inequitable distribution of human resources for health with inverse distribution of health personnel compared with the population with over 70 percent of health personnel serving 30 percent urban dwellers as against less than 20 percent health personnel serving over 70 percent population living in our rural areas, generally low doctor/health workers to patients ratio, low per capita income, poor access to healthcare facilities among others.
“In recognition of the importance of health financing in the achievement of Universal Health Coverage, a fundamental strategy to address our abysmal poor health indices, there is urgent need to improve enrollment in our National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) from the current less than five per cent coverage. Nigerians are increasingly losing hope in NHIS as a tool, which is vital to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage”.
According to him, “To achieve UHC, it is, therefore, important to strengthen the NHIS and explore other health care financing system like community-based health insurance which some states have keyed into. This scheme will significantly cater for the informal sector especially the rural dwellers. There is also the need to ensure that our leaders muster enough political will for quality and effective healthcare services in Nigeria.”