By Asma’u Ahmad
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) said strengthening the quality of Primary Health Care (PHC) system would improve life expectancy in the country.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the scheme, Mr. Femi Akingbade, stated this in Abuja at a stakeholders’ forum on ‘Understanding the Roles of Stakeholders in the Emerging NHIS’.
Mr. Akingbade said the poor quality of health care services in PHC facilities had discouraged enrollees in obtaining their treatment from such places.
He added that some enrollees lacked the required knowledge on the health services they were expected to benefit from their Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs).
“If we have a very good primary health care system, we will cure 80 per cent of some diseases before they advance to a big case. We want to change the health care system so that the first point of call for
enrollees will be a PHC and not a tertiary centre.
The workforce in Nigeria is very active between the ages of 15-40 and these are people because of unemployment, economic scourge and so many things cannot afford health care services. If we can’t encourage them to access health care facilities, life expectancy will continue to drop in Nigeria,” Akingbade said.
According to him, the indices of poor health facilities need to be reduced so as to build a solid health sector.
He further added that strengthening the PHC would engender the training of public health experts, community health workers that can attend to the health needs of enrollees in their localities.
Akingbade further stated that initiating programmes and ideas was good but without the stakeholders’ being part of decision making, the PHC would not work. He decried that the country had a population of over 150 million, adding that about 10 million people were captured in health insurance programmes.
Chairman, Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN), Dr. Kolawole Owoka said the HMOs carried continuous quality health care services, adding that they manage frequency of medical services and continuous referral system from primary, secondary and tertiary health care among enrollees.
Also speaking, President of Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Umar Sanda, said PHC required capacity building to work effectively.
On her part, General Manager, Standard and Quality Assurance, NHIS, Mrs. Idiat Anibilowo, said that quality healthcare was an optimal balance of health benefits.
Mrs. Anibilowo said that stakeholders should ensure effectiveness, efficiency, safety, acceptability, equity, accessibility and patient centeredness was their target in handling enrollees.