• Sunday, March 03, 2024
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CSJ tasks FG on health insurance

CSJ tasks FG on health insurance

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has urged the President Bola Tinubu-led administration to ensure the effective implementation of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act to reduce out-of-pocket health expenses, and boost the growth of the health sector.

Speaking at a workshop on ‘innovative and alternative funding of the health sector’, held in Abuja, CSJ’s lead director, Eze Onyekpere said there was a need for the government to adopt innovative and alternative measures in addressing critical funding and human resource issues in Nigeria’s health sector.

According to him, poor public funding of the health sector, population increase that outpaces economic growth and fiscal crisis have combined to guarantee poor health indicators and out-of-pocket health expenditure of 70.52 percent, being the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said, “The Basic Health Care Provision Fund needs better utilisation and transparency. We must dedicate more funds for service delivery to benefit the poorest of the poor.

“The full implementation of the National Health Insurance Authority Act 2022 to reduce the high-level out-of-pocket health expenditure in Nigeria while moving towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is imperative.

“The high out-of-pocket expenditure has hindered the attainment of the goals of UHC – to ensure that all people have access to quality health services, to safeguard all people from public health risks, and to protect all people from impoverishment due to illness.”

Speaking further, Onyekpere said that inadequate domestic health equipment, facilities and infrastructure remain the major drivers of health tourism, gulping about $1billion annually amid Nigeria’s export of health professionals.

In his remarks, Frank Muonemeh, the executive secretary, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), said the pharmaceutical manufacturers were working with the National Health Insurance Authority to make essential medicines available to the citizens under the health insurance scheme.

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He, however, called on the government to show commitment and political will in addressing the health challenges faced by the citizenry.

The workshop was part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded strengthening civic advocacy and local engagement programme, implemented by CSJ.

The project aims to enhance respect for existing laws and policies while promoting transparency and accountability in the public health sector expenditure.

Participants at the workshop called for increased allocation of resources to social health insurance to cover vulnerable populations, as well as optimising the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and ensuring transparency in its management.