The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has disclosed that Nigerians spend N2.8trillion on healthcare. Speaking on Monday during an NHIS stakeholders’ consultative forum, the executive secretary of the scheme, Dr Femi Thomas, said the spending is unwise as the actual budget to achieve universal health coverage in Nigeria is N1.93trillion. He said, “For us to achieve universal health coverage in Nigeria, we need N1.93trillion and we know this cannot come from the federal government alone.” “Unfortunately for now, we are spending N2.8trillion, which is unwise and out-of-pocket too instead of us to manage to spend N1.93trillion wisely and judiciously.”
Thomas who enjoined states to make health insurance mandatory in their domains, stated that the poor and vulnerable who are not enrolled would be covered through SURE-P or other equity programmes of the federal government. “The federal government through the NHIS will continue to support the equity programmes, which cover Nigerians who are not working and the vulnerable.”
The NHIS boss added that though Nigeria’s Constitution provides for adequate healthcare for Nigerians, health has been in the concurrent list in the federal government’s budget which is in conflict with states and local governments.
He, however, stated that the principle of synergy could be used to move health to legislation whereby states and the federal government can both legislate for health. He also disclosed that the federal government is still paying 3.5 per cent of consolidated salary structure for the formal sector comprising the civil servants, while only few MDAs have asked their staff to pay 1.7 per cent of their counterpart funding.