NHIA Urges Collective Effort to Overcome Health Insurance Challenges

By Edward Samuel, Abuja

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The Director General of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, has called for collective action to address persistent challenges in Nigeria’s health insurance system, including low coverage, uneven distribution, and quality concerns.

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Dr. Ohiri made these remarks in Abuja the nation’s capital at the NHIA’s Strategic Stakeholders Engagement in collaboration with the Nigeria Universal Health Coverage Forum and Local Health System Sustainability Project (LHSS), Project Nigeria.

He said despite notable advancements, health insurance system is still hindered by significant issues.

“We need to expand our reach, particularly in the informal sector, where coverage is alarmingly low at just one percent,” he said.

The event, themed: “The NHIA Act: Two Years After Reflections and Future Direction,” provided a platform for stakeholders to assess progress and chart a future course for health insurance in Nigeria.

The NHIA Act, enacted on May 19, 2022, aims to improve health insurance by mandating coverage and establishing the Vulnerable Group Fund.

“The NHIA Act represents a transformative shift, positioning us as promoters, integrators, and regulators of health insurance.”

“Our mandate includes ensuring health insurance for all Nigerians and creating state-specific schemes.”

The Chief of Party LHSS, Dr. Bolanle Olusola-Faleye, highlighted the importance of financial risk protection.

“Our focus is on safeguarding the poor and vulnerable through essential investments in the Health Sector Renewal Initiative,” she said.

Moderating a panel discussion, Gafar Alawode, Director of DGI Consult Limited, emphasized collaboration.

“We aim to align efforts to enhance coverage in line with NHIA’s vision,” he noted.

Dr. Elaine Baruwa pointed out the importance of tangible health benefits from enrollment.

“It’s crucial that enrollment leads to real health improvements, advocating for a strong business case for health investments,” she said.

The Health Economist at WHO Nigeria, Dr. Francis Ukwuije, stressed the need for data-driven decisions.

“Data on health insurance outputs, like service usage, is vital for informed decision-making,” he remarked.

Chairman of the Health System Reform Coalition of Nigeria (HSRCN), Dr. Mustapha Lecky, called for strategic partnerships. “We believe in collaboration, support, and a strategic approach. Effective collaboration is key to fulfilling our mandates,” he said.

Dr. Ohiri underscored the NHIA’s commitment to transparency and high standards. “We are dedicated to setting robust standards and regulating the fragmented landscape, urging regular stakeholder sessions to address ongoing challenges.

“We must come together routinely to address these issues through consistent dialogue and collaboration,” Dr. Ohiri emphasized.

Participants echoed the need for collective action to improve Nigeria’s health insurance system. “Improving health insurance coverage strengthens our entire health system.”

The NHIA boss call for collective effort and strategic action aims to create a more inclusive and effective health insurance system for all Nigerians, ensuring that the benefits of health insurance are widely distributed and accessible.

 

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