What I will do to resolve Nigeria’s NHIS crisis – Executive Secretary

Mohammed Sambo submitting and signing his letter of appointment at the NHIS head office in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mohammed Sambo submitting and signing his letter of appointment at the NHIS head office in Abuja on Tuesday.

The new Executive Secretary of Nigeria’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mohammed Sambo, has revealed his three-point agenda for the scheme.

This, he said, would resolve the crisis which has beset the scheme since inception and restore public confidence in it.

Mr Sambo disclosed this in his maiden interactive session with staff of the scheme at its corporate headquarters in Abuja, according to a statement Tuesday by Ayo Osinlu, Head of NHIS media and public relations.

He listed the three-point agenda to include: restoring value system that will transform NHIS into a credible result-driven organisation; engendering transparency and accountability in the entire operation of the scheme, and accelerating the drive towards achieving access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians.

“The detail elements of the rebranding agenda will soon be unveiled after undertaking rapid assessment of the situation in the scheme. Thereafter, a series of activities to actualize this vision will follow”, the statement quoted the NHIS boss as saying.

Mr Sambo, a professor of Health Policy and Management, was appointed as substantive head of the NHIS after his predecessor, Usman Yusuf, was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago following allegations of fraud and misconduct.

Plague of crisis

The professor also lamented the crisis that had plagued the scheme, saying it has impaired its capacity to deliver creditably on its core mandate.

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He traced the problem to the inception of the scheme.

“I know very well that the problems of NHIS are as old as NHIS itself”, Mr Sambo said.

The NHIS was set up 14 years ago largely to reduce the burden of out-of-pocket spending for healthcare in the country. However, the scheme has been troubled by administrative and technical encumbrances.

It became a cesspool of corruption and gained a reputation as one of the most crisis-ridden agencies in the country. Less than half of Nigerians, mostly civil servants, are covered under the scheme.

In his address, Mr Sambo gave the assurance that he was committed to lift the scheme from “murky waters” and take it to the “promised land”.

“I am familiar with the terrain. I was part and parcel of its construction. I know the bends and the potholes. I know all the essential landmarks and I am determined to navigate through.”

The NHIS boss called on “everyone in the organisation to sheath his/her sword and observe perpetual seize-fire for the benefit of the teeming Nigerian who are looking up to the Scheme for healthy and economically productive lives.”

He promised to carry everyone along in the process of rebuilding the scheme and unlocking its potentials to enhance the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians.

According to the statement, Mr Sambo insisted on his readiness to work with everyone whose focus is on the mandate of the scheme.

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