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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Universal Health Coverage: Nigeria Lags Behind Target By 22%

Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu

Paul Obi 
There are indications that only eight out of every 100 Nigerians had health coverage, implying that the country lags behind its target by 22 percent. This is barely two years before the end of 2015, set by the Presidency as the target to reach 30% of Nigerians with health insurance coverage. 
Inaugurating governing boards for five health agencies and hospitals in Abuja recently, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu admitted that government was yet to meet the target in respect of universal health coverage and suggested that the National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS) which administers social insurance in the country, adopt “aggressive marketing” to push its health products nationwide.
“At the end of 2012, we have recorded eight percent,” the minister said. This, he added, was mostly through the launch of community-based social health insurance and voluntary contributions, which NHIS has pushed in previous times.
“Meeting target will require aggressive marketing of various products of NHIS,” he told members of newly inaugurated governing board of NHIS. Present laws allow voluntary purchase of health cover, though legislation to make health cover mandatory is under consideration.
Among para-state agencies with newly-inaugurated boards are NHIS, National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), National Eye Centre (NEC), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), which has a traditional medicine practitioner on its board.
NHIS and NPHCDA are expected to lead efforts to deepen the reach of basic health care as well as strengthen efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis in the country.
A common front and collaboration between the primary healthcare agency and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control will target what the minister called “the polio front” but also consider the role of environmental sanitation in keeping communities polio-free as herd immunity – the result of continued immunisation of communities over time – continues to increase.
Source: Thisday Live

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