The Governor of Cross River state, Senator Liyel Imoke recently in Calabar endorsed the various initiatives of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr. Femi Thomas, in the on-going efforts to realign the Scheme for greater efficiency and relevance that will translate into rapidly increasing coverage of all classes of Nigerians.
The Governor made the endorsement during an advocacy visit to the Government House, Calabar by a team of NHIS top-botchers, led by the Executive Secretary.
It will be recalled that Dr. Thomas stepped into the assignment about a year ago with “increased coverage” as his battle cry, especially in the face of a Presidential mandate to provide coverage for no less than 30% of Nigerians by 2015, as well as the global drive for universal health coverage.
In that direction, he has conceptualized various new initiatives which are currently in various stages of development or implementation.
These include, among others, the National Mobile Health Insurance Programme for which a pilot run was recently flagged off in Lagos, targeting at least 20 million people and the Public Primary Schools Health Insurance Proramme expected to take off in September this year with 24 million children as target.
Speaking during the call on Senator Imoke in Calabar, Thomas stated that the Scheme is presently in the process of procuring state of the art equipment that will make operations such as enrolment, data collection, payment and other transactions within the Scheme transparent, and easily accessible to all stakeholders within the system.
He told the Governor that the Scheme will collaborate with any state government willing to fold its workforce into the formal sector social health Insurance programme, to develop a model that will be affordable and at the same time provide comprehensive health coverage to the enrollees.
The NHIS boss commended the state government for providing over eight hundred primary healthcare centres in various wards of the state, adding that ‘’this will significantly take care of the supply end of the chain in the healthcare delivery sector.’’
According to him, the Scheme was in Calabar to exploit with the state government, potentials for boosting the demand angle of the chain, which is capable of sustaining the facilities.
He reiterated that the Scheme will singularly fund the enrolment of pupils into the public primary schools programme for the rest of the year after take-off in September, considering that it was not captured in the 2014 budget of state governments.
However, he said the state governments are expected to provide 60% of the capitation for each pupil, while NHIS will bring up the balance of 40% of the total contribution for their coverage from January 2015.
The NHIS boss expressed his pleasure that other programmes of the Scheme like the Community Based Social Health Insurance (CBSHIP) have witnessed an overwhelming reception across several communities visited in the state.
He called on the state government to support the Scheme in its efforts at achieving the Presidential mandate of 30% health insurance coverage to Nigerians by the end of 2015, by folding its workforce into the formal sector programme and supporting the CBSHIP and PPSSHP initiatives.
Responding, the Executive Governor of Cross-river State, Senator Liyel Imoke observed that NHIS was set up to address one of the key challenges in the health care delivery sector, which is cost.
He said the State is keen on the programmes of the Scheme as outlined by the Executive Secretary, most especially those that will provide access to healthcare for the vulnerable, women and children under the age of five in the state.
He called for a strong partnership between the State and the Scheme, with a view to avoiding some of the problems that led to the botched formal sector programme in the state in 2008.
The Governor pledged the cooperation of his government to the Scheme, as it continues to pursue access to effective healthcare by all its citizens.
At the meeting were members of the Cross River State Executive Council, including the Head of the state civil service, Mrs. Mary-Theresa Ikwem (MNI) and the Commissioner for Health, Prof. (Mrs.) Angela Oyo-Ita.