Health insurance should be made compulsory for Nigerians if the country must achieve universal health coverage, an official has said.
The Acting Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, therefore appealed for the amendment of the section that made enrollment optional in the Act establishing the scheme.
Mr. Ibrahim said this while briefing reporters on Tuesday in Abuja on the activities of the scheme.
“The current act establishing NHIS made it optional but anywhere in the world that health insurance is in practice, it is compulsory. For us to achieve universal health coverage it must be made compulsory”, he said.
Mr. Ibrahim said the scheme was working closely with state governments to establish state health insurance schemes.
“We are encouraging the states to come up with agencies of their own and also not to make the mistake made in our Act by making it optional. We are urging the states to make it compulsory, I think those are the areas that need amendment.”
Due to several allegations of sharp practices and alleged rot in the system, the House of Representatives had rejected the 2017 budget proposals of the NHIS.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, later suspended Usman Yusuf, the substantive Executive Secretary of NHIS over corruption allegations, one of which was the procurement of a N58 million SUV without due process. Mr. Ibrahim was appointed in his place in acting position.
The suspension came weeks after the Senate had launched investigations into Mr. Yusuf’s activities as the NHIS chief.
Worried by the furore over the scheme, the House of Representatives a few months ago held a public hearing on the implementation of the NHIS.
On the ongoing probe of the scheme, Mr. Ibrahim said there are various agencies handling it and that he could not say anything until he has been properly briefed.
“There is an administrative committee constituted by the ministry and I don’t want to say anything until I see the report, I have not seeing the report.
“All these agencies are doing their beat and until their report is submitted officially to me, I will not be able to say anything on that.”
He, however, cautioned against any attempt to smear the corporate image of the scheme as hub of corruption, saying this was unacceptable.
Mr. Ibrahim assured that anyone within or outside the scheme against whom imoropriety was established, would be handed over to the agencies of government with appropriate mandate to bring such people to justice.
“Those who have been abusing their privileges around the scheme should be made to face the consequences of their actions in full measure,’’ Mr. Ibrahim said.
However, he argued that the scheme has not done badly in the implementation of its mandate 12 years after its inauguration.
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