By Asma’u Ahmad
The Niger State Government says it will establish a state owned Health Insurance Scheme (SHIS) to boost healthcare service delivery to residents.
Chairman of the House Committee on Health in the state House of Assembly, Mr John Paul, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Minna on Monday.
“The House is proposing a bill for the establishment of the SHIS and all the 25 local government councils of the state would be mandated to key into the programme,” he said.
Mr Paul said that the programme would be championed by the Speaker of the House, Alhaji Ahmed Marafa, starting from with the Chanchaga Local Government Area.
He explained that the SHIS programme was targeting rural dwellers who do not have easy access to healthcare services because most of the general hospitals are in urban areas.
According to him, farmers in rural areas will be asked to contribute some small amount of money on monthly basis, while the state government would also contribute.
“The money that will be contributed will be used to purchase drugs for the scheme for free healthcare service delivery in hard-to-reach communities. Seventy per cent of our population are found in these hard-to-reach communities and are predominantly farmers.
“They have fewer resources, little basic infrastructure, less education, bad means of transportation and they are also mostly vulnerable women and children. Innocent children and pregnant women have lost their lives because the health facilities are not within their reach either due to poor roads or non-availability of health facilities,” he said.
The lawmaker noted that the present administration of Gov. Abubakar Bello had prioritised the health sector through plans to establish functional Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across the state.
He said that the establishment of PHCs in the 274 electoral wards would eradicate the problem of poor healthcare service delivery in rural communities.
He expressed optimism that the proposed SHIS would bring about qualitative healthcare service delivery in rural communities as the facilities would be within their reach.