A new governing council, the highest policy making organ, has been inaugurated for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole in Abuja.
The 11-member Council is chaired by Dr. Enyantu Ifenne, a distinguished paediatrician with an impressive track of academic, professional and public advocacy accomplishments.
The Council reflected the urgency of the work at hand as it proceeded promptly to the Conference Room of the Scheme from the inauguration venue for an interactive session with the management team of the Scheme, followed by a “village square” engagement with a cross-section of staff of the agency.
Addressing the management of the Scheme, Dr. Ifenne acknowledged that the Council members were familiar with the enormous challenges facing the organisation, and pledged that the council was committed to leading the process of resolving them.
She expressed grave concern that the primary purpose of the Scheme, which is to make healthcare physically and financially available to all Nigerians, is becoming far-fetched.
Evidence of this, she said, is the unacceptably low coverage level, which must be addressed vigorously by all stakeholders.
Dr. Ifenne also regretted that the Scheme has been consistent in the news in recent times for unflattering reasons, promising that she will take full advantage of the resourcefulness and vast exposure of the members of the council to address all thorny issues within the ambit of the laws setting up the Scheme.
She reminded all that the bottomlines of every effort and activity within the operations of NHIS are the satisfaction of the enrolee with reference to the quality of care available
to him at the points of service, as well as the guarantee that the dignity of his person is protected always in the health-seeking process.
The NHIS Council boss, who reiterated that it is important that the legitimate interests of all stakeholders are respected for confidence building, gave assurance that she will lead the Council to provide the platform and environment for inclusiveness at all times.
The Council Chairman emphasized that she and her colleagues are in the scheme “to soothen frayed nerves, heal wounds and inspire all to bond around the obvious common commitments that we have”.
“As a mother, I appeal to all to drop the swords, relax the muscles, engage the minds and let’s get down to work”, she appealed.
She promised the nation that her Council will direct the operations of the Scheme with due observance of transparency and accountability, to restore public confidence in the corporate integrity of NHIS.
Dr. Ifenne said she is aware staff of the Scheme are sitting on edge, while public expectation is very high with the emergence of the governing council.
She however assured all of fairness and equity at all times, while the council will work extra hard to raise the stakes for the Scheme, including leading high-level advocacies to advance the objectives of the Scheme in various zones of the country.
Welcoming the Governing Council earlier, the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Professor Usman Yusuf expressed the confidence that the council will offer the Scheme a fresh breath of air, by dousing the tension in the system and leading the way forward.
He therefore solicited the support and cooperation of management and staff of the Scheme for the council, to facilitate their constructive interventions and leadership.
Other members of the Council present at the interactions were, Senator Bassey Otu; Mr. Lekan Ewenla, representing the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria; Comrade Joy Josaiah for the Nigeria Labour Congress; Arc. Samson Rufai and Nasir Adamu, representing the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.