Achieving Universal Health Coverage In Nigeria Is Very Possible – Senator Tejuoso

Posted on June 24, 2017

The senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District and Chairman Senate Committee On Health, Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso said achieving Universal Health Coverage is possible in Nigeria with the National Health Insurance Commission Bill.

The distinguished senator gave the assurance at the 23rd Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly of The Association of Nigerian Physicians In The Americas (ANPA).

The event which took place between 21-25 June, 2017 and was held at Westin Buckhead,Georgia, USA was an opportunity for the respected medical doctor and legislator to give an informed opinion on the possibilities of achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.

Senator Tejuoso in his remarks said it was gratifying to note that since the incorporation of the association about  22 years ago, ANPA has consistently lived up to its vision of contributing to the development of “A Healthier Nigeria in a Healthier World.

He also assured that in the pursuit and realisation of the ideals of the association, that they have a strong partner in the 8th National Assembly in Nigeria.

The senator stated further, “Embedded in the Universal Health Coverage are critical benchmarks that countries are expected to implement. Total health expenditure (THE) should be at least 4% – 5% of gross domestic product. Out-of-pocket spending should not exceed 30-40% of total health expenditure. Countries are obliged to ensure that over 90 per cent of the population is covered by pre-payment and risk pooling schemes.

“The health insurance system should guarantee close to 100 per cent coverage of vulnerable population groups with social assistance and safety-net programmes. And, at least, 80% of the poorest 40% of the population should have effective coverage for quality health services.

“Regrettably, the reality in Nigeria’s health system is still in search of rapid progress towards attaining those benchmarks. Indeed, access to quality healthcare in Nigeria is severely hampered by chronic weakness of health governance system, lack of accountability among service providers, frequent industrial conflict, poor funding, lack of effective oversight, high out-of-pocket expenditure, among others.

“In light of the above, the National Assembly has embarked on a comprehensive review of existing legislations with a view to repealing or amending the laws to ensure better health outcomes. Just a couple of weeks back, the Senate organized the Public Hearing on a Bill to repeal the National Health Insurance Scheme act and to enact the National Health Insurance Commission Bill. The Bill, when passed, will address the challenges of limited coverage, inefficiency and lack of accountability which impede access to effective health insurance in Nigeria.

“As you all know, Health Insurance has emerged as an important financing mechanism to finance the healthcare needs of people. The uncertainty of disease or illness has accentuated the need for insurance and it works on certain fundamental principles – the principles of cross subsidization and solidarity. Where the rich support the poor, the well support the sick and the “haves” support the “have nots”. This can only be achieved through making insurance mandatory and subsidization for those unable to afford insurance premiums. These are the objectives to be achieved when the Bill becomes law

Senator Tejuoso disclosed that participants at the Public Hearing cut across all sectors of the Nigerian society. Professional associations, labour and trade unions, government ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, private sector as well as the media were adequately represented in the well-attended hearing. In the spirit of effective public participation and ownership, all the submissions are being carefully analysed to ensure that the Bill is representative of the views and wishes of the people.

“As critical stakeholders in Nigeria’s health sector, I expect you to continue to deploy your rich experience and abundant network to generate practicable solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting Nigeria’s health system. In particular, I enjoin you to explore the possibility of using the rapidly growing field of Telemedicine to extend care to Nigerians. This will not only expand access to cutting-edge diagnosis and prescriptions, it will further boost domestic capacity in quality healthcare delivery. Hopefully, this will crystallize to universal health coverage (UHC) for all as envisaged by the 58th World Health assembly as well as Nigeria’s own commitments enshrined in various policy and legislative documents.”

Senator Tejuoso ended up by saying that access to quality healthcare for all, otherwise known as Universal Health Coverage (UHC), therefore should not be an uphill battle in Nigeria with the passage of the National Health Insurance Commission Bill.

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