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Rejig Nigeria Health Insurance for optimal performance and trust – Experts Tell Govt

To avoid a total collapse in the health insurance ecosystem, healthcare practitioners want the initiative modulated and defined, clearly identifying the benefit package.

The Immediate Past National President, Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, HCPAN, Dr Adeyeye Arigbabuwo, made the call at a 3-day conference and exhibition, put together by Afrihealth in collaboration with HCPAN in Lagos.

He said, ” beyond intimating members of the public on the working of the scheme, the need for everyone to key into it, it is also to draw government attention to the grey areas bedeviling Nigeria’s Health Sector “.

Enumerating the risk in our of pocket medical expenses, Dr Arigbabuwo noted that, “ we have areas we budget for, education, food and shelter among other things at the family level “. “ if you have to pay out of pocket to treat thyroid for #50, 000 naira, and three members of the family is sick, even the minimum wage of one hundred thousand naira ( if eventually paid ), won’t be enough to cater for the rest of the demands “.

“ That’s not going to be good for an average Nigerian. “ The world’s global concept is moving towards health insurance “. He emphasized.

On his part, Chairman of Chief Medical Directors in Nigeria, Emem Bassey, said the health sector had received a fair boost under the present administration.

“In 2024, Nigeria’s health sector received about 4.7 percent of the total budget, which has been the highest so far in a long while.

He disclosed that the value of the Naira against the dollar was part of the problem.

“Nigerians receive medical attention at subsidized rates in public hospitals through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is not properly funded by the government.

“As we speak, most of our Teaching Hospitals and public hospitals are no longer on the national grid, thus; making the issue of power a major concern to us.

Dr. Bassey further revealed that more funds should to be injected into the health sector as drugs alone would gulp huge amounts of money not to talk of having standard laboratories and other equipment.

The Lagos State Chairman, Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, HCPAN, Biola Paul-Ozieh, called for a more innovative approach to tackling mirage of challenges facing the sector.

“ The Federal Government should increase budgetary allocation for health in order to bridge the gaps in service delivery “. Biola

Responding to questions on how to improve Nigeria’s health care system, Dr. Chijioke Mbelu Founder Afrihealth, Development Foundation, advocated a holistic approach to repositioning Nigeria’s health sector.

“When our hospitals have the necessary equipment, it will help bring about affordable health care services to the public”.

The health Expert lamented the poor state of Nigeria’s health care service delivery and identified finance as the major challenge confronting Nigeria’s Health Sector.

“Finance is the major problem we are having because the government hasn’t been able to invest hugely in the health sector.

“Fifteen percent of our annual budget should go to the health sector as against the three to five percent we have always had” the expert explained.

According to him, the government should finance the health sector though policies that will enable Medical centers obtain loans from financial institutions with a very low interest rate, ( single digit ).

“If implemented, the move will boost Nigerians confidence rather than seeking medical attention abroad” Dr.Mebelu added.

The event Which had its theme:”Rapid Growth of Healthcare Entrepreneurship in Lagos State”, brought together health professionals as well as key Industry players.

Julie Ekong

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