UHC: NHIS partners private sector to improve knowledge of programmes
By Gloria Essien
In a move to deepen awareness of programmes and improve the knowledge of members of the public about health insurance, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Silverbird Group have agreed to explore ways of working together in the overall drive towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Both parties entered this understanding at a parley between the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Muhanned Sambo and President of the Silverbird Group, Mr. Guy Muray-Bruce when the latter paid a courtesy call on the health insurance boss in Abuja.
Speaking during the visit, Dr Sambo noted that access to affordable and quality health care for all Nigerians would be an attainment of the landmark of one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said that the Scheme had successfully covered 99% of workers who are on federal government payroll under its formal sector programme.
Highlighting the impact of the recent history of the Scheme on the actualization of its mandate, Sambo told the Silverbird boss that upon appointment he inherited an agency that had drifted away from its core objectives, prompting him to conduct a system diagnosis in resolving the problems he met on ground.
According to him, the Scheme’s high turnover of chief executives, which made him the twelveth in the organization’s twenty-five year history, had adversely affected the implementation of the Scheme’s programmes, giving the assurance that the major problems of the Scheme will be resolved under his watch.
“Having earned my name in organizational management, if I am unable to fix NHIS’ problems then after my tenure I should go back to my village rather than back to the classroom” Sambo said.
He expressed the hope that the reviewed NHIS Act that has undergone legislative amendment has been presented to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent following its passage by both chambers of legislature, noting that the would-be legislation will make health insurance compulsory for all Nigerians.
The NHIS boss also said that with the passage of the bill into law, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s Next level agenda on health, which is to ensure that all Nigerians have access to affordable and quality healthcare, will be achieved.
He noted that the Scheme’s ten-year strategic plan of which implementation has begun, holds the prospects of ensuring that UHC is attained before the projected timeline.
Scheme low awareness
On ways of addressing the low awareness of the Scheme, Sambo stressed the significance of partnership with the media as a viable and effective vehicle for mass education, maintaining that policies would work better where the people in whose interest these initiatives were put in place understood how the policies operate in the first place.
Speaking earlier, Mr Guy Muray-Bruce, who led a five-person delegation on the visit, said that his organization was seeking areas of partnership and collaboration with the Scheme in the overall interest of Nigeria’s healthcare system, noting that Silverbird was in a position to give positive representation to the various efforts of the Scheme.