The Chairman, Nigerian Senate Committee on Health, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, has confirmed that the senate passed a bill that will make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians. Oloriegbe disclosed this at the recent inauguration of Group Individual and Family Social Health Insurance Programme (GIFSHIP) in Abuja. “We have passed it in the Senate. Two Committees on health from Senate and the House of Representatives worked on the bill, so the bill is before the House of Representatives just for concurrence. Also, the National Assembly has passed the National Health Insurance Authority Act. It will not be National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) again, it will be National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA). A scheme in NHI(S) means only one scheme. That is what has been happening. The NHIA will be an Authority that will cover all schemes and everything will be brought together. The most important aspect of it is to make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians,’’ he said.
The chairman said the e-NHIS framework had been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and would soon be deployed. He explained that the National Assembly had been supporting NHIS by appropriating the needed funds for its implementation. “Without funds for it, it cannot work. When we considered the NHIS 2020 budget, we fully made provision for achievement of the e-NHIS and N1.5 billion was provided for that”.
In addition, Oloriegbe said the senate had been working with the Federal Ministry of Health to improve health coverage by giving the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) effective implementation. “We have reviewed the manual for BHCPF in collaboration with stakeholders to make the fund more beneficial to Nigerians. Also, the inauguration of GIFSHIP is important to us. What we are doing today is very critical to the attainment of the objectives of GIFSHIP because we represent people. What we will be doing as representatives of health sector in the national assembly is to advocate and ensure that all our colleagues register their constituencies, support and pay for their constituencies. We will start, all of us in leadership of five health committees in the national assembly will register our constituencies,” he said.
In his remarks, Dr Niyi Oginni, the Chairman, Forum of CEOs, State Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria, said the states had been restructured to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC). For many years, Nigeria has struggled to achieve UHC and this necessitated the establishment of state health insurance agencies. The agencies have a comprehensive health insurance package including GIFSHIP,’’ he said.
Oginni said one of the challenges of the scheme was the electronic aspect of it, seeking for collaboration with NHIS to upgrade its operations electronically. He, however, expressed worry over the news of a state that had announced to cut the salary of its workers by 50 per cent, saying “it will affect contributions to the health scheme.’’ Also speaking, Dr Adeyeye Arigbabuwo, President, Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN) expressed readiness to partner with NHIS to achieve the objectives of the GIFSHIP. Arigbabuwo commended the NHIS for introducing landmark programmes, especially health insurance under one roof. “We will continue to do our best to provide services for Nigerians to access health facilities,’’ he said.
Similarly, Dr Leke Osunniyi, Chairman of Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN) commended NHIS on the inauguration of GIFSHIP, saying “we are happy that our suggestions were captured in the programme. We are optimistic that the programme will contribute to the growth of health insurance in the country,” he said. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlight of the event was the formal inauguration of GIFSHIP and symbolic registration by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.