Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) president, Dr. Kayode Obembe has given his kinsmen in Odo-Ayedun, a rustic community in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State something to cheer about by making affordable health care delivery accessible to them.
The people gathered in their thousands at the Comprehensive Health Centre to welcome their illustrious son, traditional rulers, top government functionaries and other guests from far and near who came to witness the official launch of Ayedun Community-based Social Health Insurance Scheme (ACB-SHIP).
The venue was jam-packed by people of the three communities serving as the immediate catchment area of the ACB-SHIP scheme. The communities are Odo-Ayedun, Oke-Ayedun and Esun.
The event was attended by Governor Ayo Fayose, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rotimi Ojo; the Owa of Odo-Ayedun, Oba Solomon Ajibade; the Alaaye of Oke-Ayedun, Oba Fatunase Ala; the Elesun of Esun, Oba D.B. Ogunsakin; Acting Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mr. Femi Akingbade who was represented by Ekiti Zonal Coordinator, Mrs. Adunola Balogun.
Ayedun was the first community in Nigeria to launch its own health insurance in which registered enrolees contribute N100 every month and have to wait for at least three months before enjoying coverage benefits.
Obembe was motivated to float the scheme in fulfilment of his desire to assist the indigent and vulnerable people have access to affordable health which they could be denied by lack of money and low level of awareness of health insurance.
The ACB-SHIP came into existence in 2011 when Obembe introduced the idea of community health insurance programme to the three communities. The programme was embraced by the people.
To add fillip to the initiative, the three communities set up a Board of Trustees (BOT) which comprises public-spirited, trustworthy individuals, seasoned medical practitioners and other respectable community leaders.
The BOT, which was given the free hand to run the programme on behalf of the communities, decided that the monthly premium would be N100 per person which makes N1, 200 per annum.
In his address, the Chairman, BOT of ACB-SHIP, Otunba Dapo Adelusi, revealed that the scheme has 4,977 enrolees who have been given cards confirming their subscription to the scheme.
Adelusi further explained that the scheme has assisted the beneficiaries to attend to their health needs at the local health centres while complicated, terminal diseases and serious pregnancy cases are referred to the Ikole General Hospital.
According to him, an enrolee has to wait for at least three months after registration before enjoying coverage benefits.
Adelusi told the gathering that the NHIS officials visited the ACB-SHIP BOT and acknowledged the efforts the scheme had made in Ayedun and the adjoining communities in the area of health insurance.
Adelusi explained further: “Other steps were taken to ensure that the programme is well established. An office was opened for the administration and a computer-literate graduate was employed as administration secretary.
“The BOT meets monthly and the minutes of the meetings are well kept. An account was opened with a commercial bank and all financial transactions are through the bank and clear records of such transactions are properly kept.
“A benefit package was drawn up by the Programme Manager and the BOT to enable the enrolees to know the coverage of their health insurance. Currently, owing to very limited financial strength, health insurance coverage is at the primary health care level only and for diseases prevalent in the communities.
“Complicated and terminal diseases, and particularly complicated pregnancy cases are promptly referred to secondary health care at the General Hospital, Ikole. An enrolee has to wait for at least three months after registration before enjoying the coverage benefits.
“The programmer’s health care providers-doctors and nurses-give health talks to advise the public on what to do when they are sick and where to access medical treatment. They are also informed about preventive measures to keep illness at bay.
“The premium paid has not been able to meet the programme’s financial needs. The facilitating Programme Manager (Obembe) has been of tremendous technical and financial assistance to keep us going.
“He has helped in paying the salaries of the staff and constantly securing the services of doctors at the Ayedun Health and Maternity Centre which provides the health care services at the primary level.
“On this happy occasion, we thank the Federal Ministry of Health through the NHIS for accepting to perform the national launch at Ayedun here.
He also urged the Federal Government to make health insurance compulsory for Nigerians as a means of fulfilling the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a component part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
Obembe said there should be a drastic reduction in pocket expenses on health, hence all Nigerians should utilise the opportunity of health insurance in their quest for quality health services.
According to him, it is impossible to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through insurance scheme when enrolment is voluntary as obtained under the NHIS.
To make the scheme practicable, Obembe urged the Federal Government to increase its expenditure from the present five per cent to 15 per cent in line with the resolution of African leaders made in 2000.
Obembe said: “The socio-economic development of the country depends on the health of her citizens. Ensuring that access to affordable, quality and equitable health care is critical to improved citizen’s health.
“The NHIS, which has been operational since 2005, has covered only seven per cent of the entire population. The total health expenditure was 6.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009, more than the baseline of 4.5 per cent. Out-of-pocket spending is more than 60 per cent total health expenditure instead of the recommended 10-15 per cent.
“Efforts should be aimed at targeting the poor and the vulnerable groups. Health insurance should be made mandatory. It is impossible to achieve UHC through insurance schemes when enrolment is voluntary.
“This is the pilot platform that can be positioned in any community in Nigeria and make health care delivery accessible and affordable.
“Ayedun Community-based Health Insurance Scheme is the solid foundation on which UHC should be erected if replicated all over the country.”
The Acting Executive Secretary, NHIS, Akingbade, commended the Ayedun community for floating ACB-SHIP, saying the launch will create a platform for “reaching the unreached.”
Akingbade said: “The inauguration of the community-based health insurance scheme in Ayedun will create the opportunity and platform for reaching the unreached. The scheme is working assiduously to address the vulnerable groups in the society.
Governor Fayose urged other illustrious citizens to assist their communities by complementing the efforts of the government to make health care delivery available to the citizens.
He commended Dr Obembe for his gesture in initiating the scheme, urging more residents to enrol to enable them to benefit from the scheme. (Thenationonlineng)
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