The Executive Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has responded to the Advisory of some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Kwara State on the need to immediately commence the enrolment of Kwarans into the Health Insurance Scheme, which was one of the suggestions made in the solicited advisories submitted to the Governor on 1st May, 2020.
The CSOs, in the letter, said: “Despite the fact that the enrolment of citizens into the State Health Insurance Scheme will require fund, the best time to make the necessary financial sacrifice and insure their health is now. Enrolment of Kwarans into the scheme will reduce the financial hardship of families as a result of huge out-of-pocket expenses on access to healthcare services. We urge your administration to immediately commence the enrolment into the scheme”.
Consequently, the Governor organised a virtual meeting with the Representatives of ENetSuD and other selected CSOs in the State between 9:00 pm – 10:45 pm on Monday 11th May 2020 to give his feedback on the Advisory letter and further engage CSOs on COVID-19 and other issues affecting the state. He agreed with the CSOs that the health insurance enrolment needs to commence soon. He, however, explained why the enrolment is yet to commence and was highly hopeful that it will commence very soon.
“On Health Insurance, we are on board. There is a niggling issue we need to tackle on that (health insurance). This includes getting the buy-in of the labour unions and civil servants to on their own opt for the scheme on the merit of it, even though the health insurance is already a law in the state. At this moment, we are still in the process of engaging the workers. We will want to launch (the first phase of the) health insurance in May which targets the indigents. We are on track and it is going on nicely. The second phase targets those in the formal sector and that includes the civil servants. But we can’t just arbitrarily deduct from salaries of Civil Servants. This is why we need to engage them to explain the numerous benefits they stand to gain in having them on board,” the Governor explained.
In a statement previously released by ENetSuD on 16th July 2018 and signed by its Coordinator (Alagbonsi Abdullateef, Ph.D.), ENetSuD noted that access to qualitative and affordable healthcare services is a right rather than a privilege, irrespective of one’s socio-economic status. The culture of high out-of-pocket expenses on healthcare in Nigeria significantly contributes to the high poverty rate in the country.
Alagbonsi described health insurance as a system of advance financing of health expenditure through contributions, premiums or taxes paid into a common pool to pay for all or part of healthcare services specified by policy or plan. He noted that since the creation of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which is the regulator of the health insurance industry in Nigeria, only the Federal Civil Servants (under the formal sector) and very few people in the category of informal sector have been enrolled in it. He expressed worry that the enrolment of Nigerians by NHIS is still less than 10%, despite the huge amount of money spent so far on the scheme since inception.
“We are aware that part of the constraints of NHIS in recording substantial enrolment of Nigerians is the fact that health is not on the exclusive list, but on the concurrent list. Moreover, Act 35 of 1999 that established NHIS did not make it mandatory for all Nigerians. These identified challenges led to the concept of decentralising health insurance to all states in the federation so that there can be state-owned health insurance agencies that will enrol their workforce and communities for larger coverage. We commend the past Administration of Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed and Dr. Ali Ahmed-led 8th Assembly for the enthusiasm displayed in creating the scheme and making statutory provision of 1% of the state annual Consolidated Revenue Fund for financing the scheme”, ENetSuD said.
Finally, ENetSuD highlighted the advantages of the scheme in Kwara state if well implemented and monitored in compliance with the global best practices. “This mandatory scheme will benefit all citizens and residents of Kwara. Some of the ways, as highlighted in the operational guideline of NHIS, include: access to good healthcare services, protection of families from the financial hardship of huge medical bills, limiting the rise in the cost of healthcare services, equitable distribution of healthcare costs among different income groups, maintenance of high standard and efficiency of healthcare services delivery, improving and harnessing private sector participation in the provision of healthcare services, ensuring adequate distribution of health facilities within the state, ensuring equitable patronage of all levels of healthcare (primary, secondary and tertiary), and enhancing the availability of funds to the healthcare sector for improved services”.
Usman Radhiyyat Taiye (Mrs),
Deputy Coordinator (Administration) / Chairperson, Media and Publicity Committee
22nd May, 2020