By Muhammad Auwal
The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Mohammed Sambo, has promised to rebrand the scheme for better performance by ensuring all Nigerians have access to quality healthcare.
He disclosed this to newsmen on the sidelines of a two-day Top Management Committee Retreat on Wednesday in Kaduna.
Prof. Sambo assumed office as the 12th executive secretary of the scheme on July 15 and promised to work hard in repositioning the scheme through execution of his three-point agenda.
He identified challenges that had hindered the scheme from meeting its objectives since its establishment in 20 years to include high turnover of the Chief Executive Officers, numbering 12 in 20 years.
Others are lack of internal cohesion between implementing units, incessant squabbles and union activists, among others.
Sambo said NHIS was a grade ‘A’ parastatal, a priority agency of the Federal Government, with the presidential mandate to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The NHIS boss added that the scheme was very important in the global development agenda which controls resources necessary to achieve its mandate by ensuring all Nigerians have access to quality healthcare with financial risk protection.
He said some ways in which the scheme would achieve its mandate was by ensuring judicious use of funds made available through the National Health Bill passed into law since 2014.
“The national health bill which was passed into law since 2014 has made provision for funding for the vulnerable groups from the consolidated revenue account.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2018 approved that the proportion for the vulnerable group should be budgeted for and the funds is currently been sent to the Ministry of Health.
“This will then be sent to state health insurance boards which will cover vulnerable groups in communities; however various states will take inventory of those to benefit from the programme and purchase health services for them.
“When we eventually roll out this basic healthcare fund into the states and we develop other innovative financing we will be joining to achieving UHC,’’ he said.
On achieving UHC through the NHIS, Sambo acknowledged that globally it has been agreed that health insurance must be made compulsory; however it is still optional in Nigeria.
He further noted that a bill in ensuring that health insurance was made compulsory in the country was passed by the eighth Assembly but yet to be assented to by the President.
“We have a presidential mandate to achieve UHC and if NHIS is not made compulsory we cannot achieve our mandate, the bill is however widely accepted by stakeholders who said it will help us achieve UHC.
“Part of our rebranding agenda is to discuss with the Senate and members of House of Representatives, and develop high power committee to undertake advocacy to ensure the bill is assented to by the president.
“This will therefore ensure all states, informal sectors and organised private sectors join NHIS, which will make us have a good financial pool that will assist the vulnerable in the society with healthcare,’’ Sambo explained.