Gloria Essien, Abuja

Health they say, is wealth.

The saying buttresses the fact that a healthy person is a wealthy person and a country with healthy people would definitely turn out wealthy.

Nigeria and in fact Africa today, has known its share of potentially deadly diseases among which are Malaria, Ebola virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and Tuberculosis.

Providing preventive and palliative care, as well as researching for cures for these diseases is a huge burden on the meagre resources of most of the countries and the continent as a whole.

As is the case all over the world, making the lives of every citizen count is the sole responsibility of government. While being mindful of this fact, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to make the life of every Nigerian to count.

The Nigerian government says it will achieve this through the provision of accessible and affordable healthcare to the people. It’s putting premium on preventive care, including the distribution of free Mosquito nets, clearing and cleaning of drainages where Mosquitos breed, aerial fumigation to reduce disease carrying insects and rodents, as well as building and equipping 10,000 health care facilities across the country’s six geo-political zones, to provide proper and timely diagnostics and first aid treatment.

A public-private collaboration, which provides free testing for Diabetes, hepatitis, breast and prostate cancers, HIV and Tuberculosis, is also being carried out. Moreover, a campaign is already underway to encourage citizens to undergo regular medical check-ups in designated hospitals under a pilot scheme. The aim is to jettison the idea that regular medical check-ups are an exclusive preserve of only the rich in the society.

The burden of the cost of providing affordable Medicare is being borne by government and partnering medical facilities, with patients charged only a minimal amount for tests and medicines. The ultimate goal is to promote cohesive medicare for the country’s teaming population at a reduced cost.

In most countries of the world, prepaid medicare services are designed and packaged to meet the unique health needs of individuals, families, corporate organisations and communities.

Nigeria is one of 63 countries to benefit from the country-driven financing partnership that brings together, under national government leadership, stakeholders in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, to provide smart, scaled and sustainable financing to accelerate efforts to end preventable maternal, newborn, child and adolescent deaths by 2030.

To achieve this objective, all the tiers of government and the private sector are expected to take responsibility for the health of their populace by proffering new strategies to finance health services for citizens.

One veritable source of funding for Nigeria is the National Health Insurance Scheme-NHIS, which currently covers less than 5% of the population and is financed only by the federal government. Introduced in 2005 to guarantee accessibility to healthcare for Nigerians, the NHIS provides insurance cover for civil and public servants who constitute just 3 percent of the entire population.

Under the scheme, of the total contribution of 15%, the employer is expected to contribute 10% and the employee 5% to cover contributors’ health needs. However, discussions are ongoing to extend the project to others in the nearest future.

More than ever before, Nigerians are hoping for a better deal in terms of a comprehensive and cohesive medicare. The proposed 10,000 primary healthcare centres is undoubtedly, a good place to start.