In commemoration of the 2018 International Universal Health Coverage Day, the West African Academy of Public Health (WAAPH) on Wednesday urged the federal government to ensure 60 percent coverage of health insurance in Nigeria in the next five years.
Speaking at a training of youth on health literacy and leadership course for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Abuja, the President of WAAPH, Francis Ohanyido, said the government needs to ensure that health insurance works in the country.
The International Universal Health Coverage Day is observed every December 12. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Unite for Universal Health Coverage: Now is the time for collective action.”
UHC refers to a system that provides healthcare and financial protection to all citizens of a particular country.
It is universally acknowledged that health insurance is the fastest way to achieve UHC. Unfortunately, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) established in Nigeria in 2005 has achieved only about three percent coverage.
Mr Ohanyido said the current level of health insurance coverage in the country is too low and totally unacceptable.
“We need to make sure that within the next five years, at least 60 percent of Nigerians are covered by health insurance. From the informal workers to corporate workers.
“We need to have that kind of scenario because that is the way to go. And it is the only thing that makes sense because health should not be taken for granted,” he said.
He also called for sensitization of Nigerians on the importance of having universal health coverage.
In her speech, the chief oversight officer for Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Chika Offor, said UHC day is about the ability of Nigerians to access healthcare without breaking the bank.
Mrs Offor said the training of Nigerian youth was to equip them with knowledge on how they can advocate for universal health coverage.
She said this would make them understand the role they can play in ensuring the achievements of UHC in the country.
Mrs Offor said there is hope for Nigeria to achieve UHC if the youth take their turn and continue the step towards achieving it.
A strategic advisory board member of WAAPH, Laz Udeh, said the organisation believes that young people should be involved in solving the various health problems in the West African region.
He said the workshop was to train young people in leadership and advocacy in health.
Mr Udeh also urged the government to release the N55.15 billion appropriated in 2018 under the National Health Act, half of which is meant to provide health insurance coverage for children less than five years of age.
The West African Academy of Public Health (WAAPH) introduced itself as an innovation-driven consulting organisation with a vision of working in the field of public health to create a dynamic, equitable, integrated, decentralised and participatory health system within a just and empowered society in the spirit of Universal Access to Health.