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January 11, 2021
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Despite the increase in the rate of enrolment into health insurance, the number of persons with access to actual care remains low considering Nigeria’s population and required global standards.

A health management expert, Mr. Lekan Ewenla expressed these opinions during a chat with DAILY POST.

He said the increase in awareness among citizens on the need to purchase health insurance notwithstanding, many still do not have the required access to healthcare.

Mr Ewenla, who is the MD of Ultimate Health Maintenance Organisation, was speaking against the backdrop of the perceived poor health-seeking behaviour of Nigerians.

He, however, explained that the rate of purchase of Health insurance at the end of the last quarter of 2020 was significantly higher than what it has been in past years.

‘‘When this scheme started, it was basically a federal government business but having activated the federal civil servants on the scheme with their dependents, there was a serious agitation for the deepening and expansion of the scheme’’.

He said in a bid to fulfil its obligations to the United Nations on the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, the federal government had increased its collaboration with state governments in offering access to health insurance.

‘‘It is the first time in the history of Nigeria we are seeing a government to government collaboration in terms of deepening health insurance. The federal government is working from the National Primary Health Development agency side to take care of supply while the NHIS is taking care of the demand.

“The government has begun to attack the issue of health care in Nigeria from both the demand and supply chain perspectives, so I am sure there would be a significant improvement in the enrolment into health insurance across the nation,” he said.

For this to happen, Ewenla said state governments must focus more on the informal sector where the largest volume of vulnerable persons in the society operates from.

He also called on Health Management Organisations in Nigeria, whose duty it is by law to drive health insurance using the required technical capacity, to focus on the services rather than enrolment of persons.

He said the government must step up its regulatory responsibilities to sanitise the sector seeing that too many HMOs are currently operating while services remain below par.

‘‘The concept of health insurance is meant to be a public-private partnership, where the scheme is to be driven by Health Maintenance Organisations but regulated by the NHIS or state health insurance schemes to ensure adherence to policies and regulations,” he added.

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