Plans are under way to amend the laws governing the National Health Insurance Scheme in Nigeria to make compulsory.
The Executive Secretary of the NHIS Prof. Muhammed Sambo, disclosed the plan at a Strategic Retreat of the NHIS, State Health Insurance Scheme and other Stakeholder in Keffi, Nasarawa state, northern Nigeria.
He said that the retreat aimed to address the ignorance and misinformation surrounding the activities of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The ES stressed the need to reposition the National Health Insurance Scheme for optimal performance.
He said that a lot of Nigerians are yet to understand the duties and modus operandi of the NHIS, which is what the strategic retreat aimed yo address.
“The retreat is strategis and would help in changing the narrative about the NHIS. The relevant of this workshop is to bring all the actors under the health insurance scheme to come together and create a platform that would enable us move towards Universal Health Coverage,” Profile Sambo said.
He noted that the NHIS is operating a 2004 health insurance law which os solely focusing on the formal sector in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary also said that the NHIS laws needs to be changed to make NHIS compulsory across board.
“The NHIS law, initially and up till today is still a non mandatory law. When NHIS started, states and local government were supposed to join but because it was not mandatory, all the states and all the local government refused for to join the NHIS. So, it was only left for the federal and willing private sector to join. Because of that problem, health insurance system was decentralized. Every state do have it’s own state insurance scheme,” he noted .
He also said that the workshop was aimed at fast tracking the health insurance insurance under one room initiative.
The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, says funds have hindered the operations of the NHIS.
He urged the government to begin to tax luxury items and telecommunications operators and use the fund to improve the activities of NHIS.
“Health services is a fundamental human right. And we shall continue to support every idea, any initiative to make sure that funds are available to provide quality health services to Nigerians”. Wabba said.
Participants at the workshop agreed that there was the need to harmonise the list of enrolees covered by the NHIS for adequate data.