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UNICEF urges more efforts to address Universal Health Coverage challenges

by Haruna Gimba

By Muhammad Amaan

The Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has advocated for more concerted efforts by relevant stakeholders in addressing systemic challenges in attaining universal health coverage.

Dr Ijeoma Agbo, UNICEF Health Specialist, stated this at a two-day media dialogue, on Tuesday in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The programme was organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Oyo State Health Insurance Scheme (OYSHIA).

Dr Agbo, who spoke on the topic “Access to Health Insurance as a Way to Achieve Universal Health Coverage for all in Nigeria,” said that health insurance brings financial protection by reducing the burden of out-of-pocket expenses by individuals and families.

The UNICEF health specialist, who noted that health insurance facilitates equitable distribution of healthcare resources, said it also promotes equity by ensuring that quality healthcare services were accessible to all persons, irrespective of their socio-economic status or geographical location.

Agbo said that state governments must dedicate a percentage of their consolidated revenue to health insurance scheme to fund premiums for the poor.

She specialist said that government should invest more in the primary health care system, approach that would be affordable to all and benefit packages that includes the minimum basic essential health services.

“Health insurance enhances access to a wider range of healthcare services, including promotive, preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services.

“Individuals with health insurance are more likely to seek timely medical care, leading to early detection and treatment of illnesses.

“Achieving universal healthcare requires a multi-sectoral and collaborative approach, involving government agencies, healthcare providers, civil society organisations, the private sector, communities and the media,” she said.

Agbo also said that inadequate funding, limited awareness about health insurance and its benefits, infrastructural gaps in health care, among others were some of the challenges of health insurance.

Earlier, UNICEF Communication Officer, Blessing Ejiofor, said that access to health insurance play’s important role in ensuring that children receive timely health care they need to survive, thrive and become whoever they wish to be in life.

Ejiofor enjoined journalists to be active advocates by using their various channels and organisations to draw attention of everyone to the issue with a view to bridging the gaps in health insurance coverage for vulnerable population.

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