NIPSS asks Buhari to repeal NHIS Act

National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)

The National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS- Nigeria’s Premier think Tank, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently repeal the National Health Insurance, NHIS Act and replace it with the National Health Insurance Commission Bill to make healthcare delivery in Nigeria more flexible, accommodating of all citizens.

This call was made during the third National Summit on Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage organized by the National Assembly with the support of development Research and Projects Centre, under the Partnership for Advocacy in child and family health At scale in Abuja on Thursday.

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked NIPSS to study healthcare delivery as the case study for the 2019 Senior Executive Course 41 of the National Institute with the theme “Finding Solutions to Funding Universal Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria.”

The Institute represented by Muhammed Gumi, disclosed that one of the major findings of the one year study is that adequate funding is a critical catalyst for boosting access to quality healthcare to all citizens. According to him, virtually all the countries visited during the study spend greater proportion of their budget on health in addition to putting in place effective policy frameworks and institutional mechanisms for utilization and oversight.

‘’It is important to acknowledge the prevailing fiscal environment in Nigeria and competing demands on limited resources at the disposal of the government, however, poor budgetary allocation to health, inadequate and untimely disbursement, absence of risk protection, fragmentation and duplication of funding pools resulting in inequitable access to quality healthcare services leaving the socio-economically disadvantaged and vulnerable groups excluded, and other barriers are weak monitoring and financial tracking mechanisms leading to leakages of resources are some of the challenges we established is bedeviling healthcare delivery in Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Gumi, a retired air commodore, further added that the nation’s healthcare delivery system suffers from non-compliance with the payment of negotiated premium by labour, and high Out of Pocket Expenses, OOPE, that remains at 77.4 per cent. He said inadequacy of reliable data compounded by low deployment of ICT in health sector exacerbates the challenge of effective planning and funding of UHCD.

He said poor policy coordination, institutional fragmentation, and weak vertical and horizontal synergy across levels of government, MDAs, military and security establishments, and donors continue to make it difficult for the nation to attain healthy status.

While calling on the president to give serious consideration to convening a special session of the National Council of State to deliberate on the modalities for fast-tracking the attainment of UHCD in Nigeria, NIPSS requested the federal government to consider introducing innovative, efficient, universal, scalable and easily collectible contribution specifically earmarked for health.

“An example is the 1 kobo per second for a maximum of ten minutes per day of all outgoing GSM calls on active mobile phone lines could triple the BHCPF,” he added.

They also asked that the Federation Account Allocation Committee be directed to deduct at source state counterpart funding for BHCPF. A combination of these will increase the pool of resources to implement the key components of Universal Healthcare Coverage in Nigeria.

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