No fewer than 3,000 indigenes of Rumuobiokani, Rumuezeolu, Oginigba and Rumuomasi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State are now proud beneficiaries of the first ever community health insurance scheme in Nigeria.
In addition, more than 3,000 registered indigenes of the four communities for the insurance scheme have also received insecticide-treated bed nets to protect them from the scourge of mosquitoes.
Another 1,000 indigenes and over 10,000 non-indigenes are expected to further benefit from the novel scheme, which is expected to cover more than 15,000 persons.
Launched last Thursday at the Obio Cottage Hospital in Rumuobiokani by the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, the scheme is the pilot initiative of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) Industrial Area Cluster Development Board (IACDB) as part of the implementation of the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) template in the area.
Speaking at the scheme launch, Parker lauded Shell and the IACDB for bringing the dream of a community health insurance scheme to concrete reality, adding that the Chibuike Amaechi administration’s policy of building 150 primary healthcare centres across the 23 LGAs was to entrench community ownership, participation, utilization and management in the provision of quality, accessible and affordable healthcare delivery to the people.
The commissioner noted that for the people to benefit maximally from the services available at the health centres, they must be incorporated as proud owners and managers of the facilities, stressing that if the ordinary people were allowed to key into their programmes, a more healthy people will populate the society.
He commended SPDC for providing the seed funds, technical equipment, medical consumables and guidance, as well as the IACDB for setting aside 13.15 per cent of its annual GMoU receipts to fund the scheme, adding that the writing off of 50 per cent on the premium payable by indigenes shows a worthy commitment of the IACDB to improve the healthcare needs of the citizenry.
Parker restated the preparedness of the government to partner SPDC and the IACDB to sustain the momentum, widen the scope of beneficiaries, and maintain quality healthcare service delivery for the people of the cluster.
In his address, Managing Director, SPDC, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, noted that as the first community-based health insurance programme in Nigeria involving the private sector, government and impacted communities, Shell was proud to be part of the effort to deliver guaranteed healthcare services that would improve and save lives in host communities.
Sunmonu expressed delight that the GMoU as a tool for empowering the people, has brought about good and accessible healthcare, which would fast track development of the area, saying that with the CHIS, thousands will now have access to comprehensive healthcare insurance coverage for curative and preventive medical treatment.
Also speaking, Regional Community Health Manager, SPDC, Dr Babatunde Fakunle, said the linkage between health, poverty, prosperity and development could not be underestimated, stressing that “users of the Obio Health Insurance Scheme now have the option of purchasing care through this model instead of the ‘fee for service’ strategy”.
Emphasising that SPDC directly supports 27 health facilities in six states in the Niger Delta, Fakunle said that the scheme would eliminate out of pocket expenses for healthcare, ensure equitable access to quality-assured healthcare systems and infrastructures, check poverty as a barrier to receiving healthcare and create an environment populated by healthy and prosperous people, among others.
In his goodwill message, Chairman, Obio/Akpor LGA, Prince Timothy Nsirim, who was represented by his Vice, Hon Solomon Eke, said as an offshoot of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), he was elated that the scheme has been first launched in his LGA, and assured that the council will leverage on the CHIS at Obio Cottage Hospital in the efforts to deliver quality healthcare services to the people in the nine other health centres.
Earlier, Chairman, IACDB, Chief Joseph Amadi, had said the scheme has a kick-off funding of N24.2million, which offsets 50 per cent premium payable by beneficiaries, adding that while indigenes will pay N3,600 each per annum or N300 per month, a family of six would pay N20,880 per annum or N1,740 per month.
Amadi further stated that non-indigenes were expected to pay full premium of N7,200 each per annum or N600 per month while a family of six would pay N41,760 per annum or N3,480 per month.