• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Health insurance: Onyekpere tasks Rivers government on enrollment

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As the cost of health care for the less privileged and the less income earners continues to soar, the Executive Director of Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere has tasked Rivers State government to do everything possible to enroll Rivers citizens on the National Health Insurance Scheme by the federal government.

Onyekpere gave the charge in a Town Hall organised by Centre for Social Justice in collaboration with Clamar Development Foundation, United States Agency International Development (USAID) and Palladium, over the weekend in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

The Executive Director maintained that the right to life and that of health care can be properly distinguished, noting that the need to take care of citizens’ health services is very paramount to all and sundry, especially the poorest of the poor who cannot afford the exorbitant health treatment in recent times.

He stated that the National Health Insurance Scheme was backed by law but wondered why the Rivers State government was too slow in the implementation of the scheme even when the Federal Government have given them funds for the implementation of the project aimed at alleviating the suffering of the poor masses who do not have access to quality health care because of their low income.

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He explained that the sensitisation cut across Nigeria but that Rivers State was representing other South South States, saying that the National Insurance Scheme was compulsory and Rivers State law was under the Federal Government law.
For this reason, he noted, Rivers cannot give excuse not to be part of the programme.

The legal practitioner said that the policy was for both the rich and the poor as it aimed to promote physical and mental health of citizens.

He tasked the state government on the payment of her counterpart funding to kick start the scheme for the benefit of all, while there will be transparency and accountability on the investment.

In her remarks, Acting Director of Rivers State Insurance Agency, Vetty Agala expressed concern over the compulsory Health Insurance Scheme by the Federal Government, saying that the state government is making preparations to hook up to the scheme in the shortest possible time.

She also said that the government had done a lot, especially the training of medical doctors and building of infrastructure that will fit in the programme.

In his contribution, Bob Manuel Somieri of the National Health Insurance Authority told participants that the scheme started in 2005 by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, which was optional then but said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration made it compulsory, making it affordable, quality, accessible to all citizens.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Rivers State, Uche Uriri tasked community members to protect government facilities in their domain, while condemning some poor security situation by some youths of the community.

Some of the participants expressed happiness with the organisers and appealed to the Rivers State government to enroll in the scheme to reduce their financial burdens during health challenges.

“We want to be part of the Health Insurance Scheme if the state government can fast tract the process,” they said.