By Asmau Ahmad
The National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA) and Society for Family Health (SFH) on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to accelerate Universal Health Coverage (UCH) in Nigeria.
The MoU was signed in Abuja by the Director-General of NHIA, Prof. Mohammed Sambo and the Managing Director of SFH, Dr Omokhudu Idogho.
Sambo said the collaboration was to deepen the penetration of health insurance in Nigeria.
He expressed optimism that the collaboration would be a good one as it took into cognisance many factors that would enhance health insurance in the country.
He said “going through the list of the areas, you will all agree that they are areas that are of paramount importance to the NHIA and they are areas that have a lot to do with deepening the penetration of NHIA and its activities in Nigeria.
“We are talking about the issues that have to do with health insurance under one roof, which is the coordination platform of the health insurance ecosystem in Nigeria.
“As an organisation, we recognised the fact that the health insurance ecosystem was operating in silos and states are expected to develop their state health insurance agencies.
“Many states were not able to do that and there was no clearly defined mechanism of interface between organisations and the major stakeholders.”
He added that this need gave birth to the health insurance under one roof initiative.
Sambo added that series of engagements with stakeholders were held and eventually the health insurance under one roof was agreed upon by all.
According to him, it is supposed to serve as platform that essentially coordinates all the health insurance activities in Nigeria.
He added that there are inputs from NHIA, state health insurance agencies, international partners and civil society organisations and healthcare providers.
Idogho of SFH said that the mission of the organisation is to improve the lives of Nigerians.
According to him, achieving health for all will require multisectoral collaborations from government, private and non-profit organisations.
He said that many challenges continue to pose threat to public health, especially high out of pocket spending and catastrophic expenditure on health.
Idogho said that SFH was supporting and contributing NHIA processes, including review of benefit packages and integration of Family Planning, HIV and Tuberculosis services.
He said the society also helped in the development of operational guidelines for the NHIA Act and design of new approaches and strategies to innovative/strategic financing toward making health insurance work for the people.
He added that “we will prioritise UHC with focus on Primary Health Care (PHC) and strategic purchasing in alignment with the SDG 3 on good health and wellbeing action plan.
“Signing the document by both parties is a critical step that would signpost the continuation of our robust partnership.
“This would be in provision of technical support and capacity building to the NHIA to strengthen its mandate toward achieving financial access to quality healthcare for Nigerians.”
The areas of collaboration are innovative financing, benefit packages, design, review, optimisation and harmonisation.
SFH will also support NHIA in the implementation review of the NHIA 10 years strategic plan.
Collaborations are also in the area of social marketing, provision of capacity building for staff of NHIA, optimisation of health support to NHIA in the optionalisation of health insurance under one roof, as well as other areas of mutual interest.