From Emmanuel Iyoho
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pledged support for operationalisation of Nigeria National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act to end out-of-pocket expenditure in the sector.
Technical officer on health financing at WHO, Nigeria, Dr Francis Nwachukwu Ukwuije stated this at the first meeting of WHO Health Financing Mission in Nigeria with the NHIA management in Abuja recently.
He urged a path for financial risk protection with a view to achieving a Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health security for Nigerians.
According to him, Nigeria has a high out-of-pocket expenditure of more than 70 per cent on health and over 60 per cent of the population, and in some states, up to 80 per cent in poverty due to ill-health.
He said the journey to risk protection in Nigeria through compulsory health insurance was important to national development.
“I wish to state that as WHO, we have the mandate to support member-states in their priority areas towards health and national risk protection through health insurance as one of the accelerators that the country has chosen, and also via universal heath coverage.” Ukwuije added.
The leader of the delegation and Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Molumbo, said in his remarks that WHO believed that implementation of the Act holds the key to transforming access to healthcare in Nigeria for the most populous black nation to achieve universal health coverage.
Also speaking, the director-general of NHIA, Professor Sambo, observed that the best way of achieving UHC was to provide financial risk protection for the people, adding that the mechanism to attaining this remains compulsory health insurance.
Sambo maintained that with the signing of the Act by President Muhammadu Buhari two months ago, the trajectory and roadmap for achieving UHC in Nigeria had been clearly defined, hence the need to ensure that the law is not only operationalised, but also put into the best use for the teeming population.
NHIA boss added that the NHIA Act had made provisions for the establishment of Vulnerable Group Fund to cater for the health insurance of 92 million Nigerians.