By Iyemah David
Executive Director of the Deaf Women Aloud Initiative, Mrs Hellen Beyioku-Alase has called on governments to make health insurance accessible to People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs).
Beyioku-Alase made the call in an interview on Tuesday in Abuja, on the sideline of a health financing policy dialogue.
The theme of the dialogue is “Accelerating the Implementation of the NHIA Act to Improve Health Insurance Coverage in Nigeria.”
The programme was organised by the Nigeria Health Watch in collaboration with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
Beyioku-Alase said that there were people with disabilities constantly forced to “jump through hoops” to get the health insurance they deserved in the country.
She advocated for inclusion to ensure that people with disabilities were not left behind in the health insurance scheme.
According to her, people with disabilities tend to be in poorer health condition and to use health care at a significantly higher rate than people without disabilities.
“They also experience a higher prevalence of secondary conditions and use preventive services at a lower rate than others.
“Moreover, people with disabilities are affected disproportionately by barriers to care,” she said.
She explained that these barriers included care provider stereotypes about disability, lack of appropriate training, and lack of accessible medical facilities and examination equipment among others.
Beyioku-Alase said that people with certain disabilities, experienced specific health disparities and additional unique problems in accessing healthcare and services in the country.
“If these problems can be resolved, crosscutting solutions hold the potential to improve healthcare for the broader disability community in the country.
“People with disability need a seat at the table of discussions on health insurance and should be carried along.
“We must speak to them in a language they can understand to sensitise them to the importance of health insurance,” she said.