If the rebranding agenda of the new National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Boss, Professor Mohammed Nasir Sambo is anything to go by, the myriad challenges limiting Nigerians from accessing qualitative healthcare service delivery will soon be a thing of the past.
The Scheme was established by NHIS Act Cap N42 (LFN) 2004, to ensure that every Nigerian has access to good healthcare services; families are protected from the financial hardship of huge medical bills especially in situations where they have to pay out of pocket; as well as ensure high standard of health care service delivery in the country.
Sadly, over the years, testimonies of enrollees about their experiences in the hands of health maintenance organisations (HMOs) Health Care Providers (HCPs) are clear indications that the scheme no longer appears to be attractive to the general or target publics.
Confronted by the tales of enrollee complaints of unsatisfactory services ranging from lack of courteous attention by hospitals, delayed attention, low drug dispensing to enrollees and sometimes rejection of patients because of inability of Health Management Organizations (HMOs) to meet their payment obligations to the hospitals,
the new NHIS Boss, Professor Mohammed Sambo swung into action by engaging enrolees, as well as healthcare providers at strategic stakeholders fora to discuss burning issues bordering on implementing NHIS in an efficient and effective manner, as well as chart a way forward towards attainment of Universal HealthCare Coverage UHC.
The forum which held in Abuja, gave enrolees the opportunity to express their many grievances as end users of a wide range of healthcare services in the hospitals where they encounter these challenges, as well as a platform for healthcare providers to give their perspectives on making the scheme work for all stakeholders.
At the 2-day meeting, Sambo who made it clear that he is not ignorant of the challenges that stand in the way of healthcare service delivery under NHIS, said the Scheme under his watch will ensure that priority and desired attention is given to enrollees.
He also reiterated the need to improve on the quality of life and wellbeing of Nigerians, stressing that it is the whole essence of health insurance.
To buttress his point, Prof. Sambo revealed that his administration has done a rapid assessment of the state of things, and is now developing a roadmap to drive the process of reforms in the organisation.
This reform, according to him, is hinged on the tripod of a three-point agenda which includes engendering value reorientation through a well-defined value system;
transparency and accountability in the entire operations Scheme; as well as activation of the push-factors for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Sambo, while expressing optimism that a proper implementation of his 3-point agenda will usher in a new NHIS that all stakeholders would be proud of, called on Nigerians to keep faith with the new management of the Scheme.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said he is confident in the ability of the new ES of NHIS to drive the reforms that will give the scheme not just a facelift, but total revitalisation.
“We must give credit to the Management of NHIS, for creating this serial platforms of consultations with all the stakeholders, with a view to engendering seamless interactivity, bringing every player in line with operational guidelines and strengthening quality assurance in the processes.
“Expectedly, all eyes are on the health sector to undertake self- assessments on many fronts, towards repositioning itself for the task ahead. This is to be expected, considering the strategic position of the sector with regards to social well-being and human capital development.
“Let me at this juncture assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that some of the concerns of the providers have also come to our attention, including but certainly not limited to delayed payments by HMOs and the pressing need for tariff review.
“Happily, these are issues on the card during the reforms. This underlies why you must therefore be frank and open in these conversations’’, He said.
He however warned that government will not accommodate inappropriate practices or outright failures that may draw back the impressive efforts to reform and reposition the NHIS, as well as actions that will jeopardize government’s efforts at ensuring the socio-economic prosperity of Nigerians.
With the 3-point rebranding agenda of the new ES and his vision of running the scheme on the wheels of empirical and verifiable evidence, there is no doubt that the NHIS helmsman has a date with history as he is poised to not only to stabilise the beleaguered agency, but also to take it forward into an assured future.
Until his appointment as Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer for the agency, the Professor of Health Policy and Management was Provost at the College of Medicine, Kaduna State University.
His huge academic and operational interest in health care financing, made him a perfect fit for his new role as the nation’s No. 1 Healthcare financing pathfinder.
Tersoo Adagher is a staff of NHIS, from the Media and Public Relations Division