The Country Director of an NGo, Palladium Health Policy Plus Project, Mr Ezire Onoriode, says health insurance remains the vehicle for quality healthcare and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) across the globe.
Onoriode told The Tide’s source yesterday in Asaba that the thinking of the Federal Government was to ensure that all the states establish a health insurance scheme with a functional primary healthcare system.
“I work with Palladium, a US service funded project, working in 17 countries of the world and in Nigeria; we are working with the Federal Ministry of Health.
“We work with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and their states counterpart to help them achieve UHC.
“At the state level, we are working in Eboyi, Osun, Abia and Federal Capital Territory (FCT). We provide technical support for states to develop their health insurance agency and health insurance scheme.
“Globally, if you want to achieve UHC and quality healthcare health insurance is the vehicle to do that this is because there were many who are so poor and cannot afford healthcare.
“Imaging in Nigeria today, out of pocket expenditure is one of the highest in the world at about 77 per cent compared to some countries, like Ghana which is less than 40 per cent out of pocket expenditure,” he said.
He said that health insurance takes the burden away from the poor and spread it across the entire population of the scheme with a minimal contribution to access quality healthcare without the catastrophe of poverty.
“We have currently developed health insurance scheme for Osun, Abia and Ebonyi States.
“Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi will be launching the state health insurance scheme before the end of September, to open it for the public to access healthcare services,” he said.
He said that theme of this year’s National Council on Health (NCH), “Consolidating the Journey Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC)’’, which held in Asaba, was a pointer to the eight direction in Nigeria.
He said that the NHIS at the time it was set up was not made mandatory and as such many people could not get registered into the scheme, adding that it is part of the reasons why the coverage was low logged.
“The Federal Government is trying to make health insurance mandatory, besides when the NHIS scheme started its coverage hovered around federal staff and this constitutes a very small percentage of the entire population of the country.
“I am excited when I learnt that Delta Health Insurance Scheme has recorded over 630,000 enrollees in a scheme which started less than two years ago in a state with about four million people.
“So, imaging if every state can set up the scheme and register up to 10 per cent coverage, many more Nigerians will have access to quality healthcare compared to about five per cent coverage by the NHIS given the over 180 million population of the country.
“The solution is for all states to get their health insurance running and sustainable and from there we can talk of quality healthcare for every Nigerian.
“There is no reason why any woman should die giving birth to a life, this happens to most poor Nigerians because they cannot afford quality healthcare.
“The choice of going to unskilled birth attendance is obvious because they cannot afford the bills to access quality healthcare services and that is the major cause of death among pregnant women but with health insurance, we can stop that,” Onoriode said.
He said that the reality was that there were many families that cannot pay the premium, adding that that is where the government has to make social contributions and need to free resources to accommodate those vulnerable groups.
He said that government must increase the domestic funding for health, ensure efficiency in the use of these resources, particularly in the Primary Health Care systems, and no white elephant projects.
According to him, it is not a good use of resources for state government to build many secondary health facilities.
“Reverting to primary healthcare services is the most efficient way to deliver healthcare to the people with minimal funds which will be assessable to the people at the grassroots.
“If that woman that is pregnant at the community level can go to that primary healthcare to receive quality healthcare service, she may never get to a situation where she will need secondary care.
“So, by making our primary healthcare to be functional, by providing needed facilities, engaging enough human resources; nurses, midwives and doctors with the their basic salaries paid and operational allowances paid, they will produce tremendous results.
“With this our secondary facilities will never be crowded and then will provide specialised service that secondary and tertiary institutions need to provide,” Onoriode said.
COVID-19: ‘No Challenge In Community Sensitisation’
As the fight to prevent the rampaging Coronavirus from infecting Rivers people continues, part of the measures adopted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in reaching out to communities has so far not experienced any notable challenges.
The Lead Coordinator for the State Rapid Response Team for COVID-19, Mr Modekai Ifemide Olowole, who made this known after a recent routine assessment of performance of the Rapid Response Team on sensitization in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt LGAs stated that the compliance level has been encouraging.
Olowole, who credited the success recoded so far to the existing mechanism in place, explained that the sensitisation team of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) works with Institutions on ground , adding that: ‘We have come together to offer our support.
“What we did was to sensitise the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to know how they can engage the communities in whatever they are doing.
“If while doing that they need some support from us, we have a Rapid Response Team (RRT) that are working on ground. They have mobility, they have everything,” he said.
According to him, each time any of the Civil Society Organisations has palliatives for instance, to give to members of any community, they use the opportunity to make presentations on COVID-19 preventive measures.
The RRT, sponsored by UNICEF in collaboration with the Rivers State Ministry of Health, and the Rivers State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), he said, decided to adopt the method, knowing that many people in the communities are more bothered by how to overcome hunger than COVID-19.
“If you look at it economically, everybody is hungry. If you go to a community and tell them you want to sensitise them on how to wish hands, they will tell you they are hungry,” he said.
This, he explained further, is part of what Risk Communication entails, and is the platform through which UNICEF aims to support the state.
“UNICEF’s aim is to support the state wherever they are working to pilot a model that is of international best practices and present to the state. That is what we’re doing now,” he said.
WHO Warns Against Lifting COVID-19 Lockdown
The World Health Organisation, WHO, yesterday urged countries to apply caution in lifting COVID-19 lockdowns, warning of a resurgence of infections if current restrictions were relaxed too soon.
WHO’s Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Takeshi Kasai,said this during an online media briefing in Manila, The Tide source reports.
Kasai said that lockdown measures have proven effective by reducing transmission of the highly infectious disease while easing the burden on the overstretched health system.
“This is going to be a long battle. This is not the time to relax,” Kasai said.
Instead, he stressed the need to be ready for “a new way of living that strikes the right balance between the measures to keep the virus in check and enable vital parts of the economy and society to function.”
Kasai urged people in the region to protect themselves, their family and their community by physically distancing and frequently cleaning their hands.
Others are covering coughs and sneeze as well as staying at home and away from others, especially when sick.
He also urged the private sector to adopt new ways of working, such as establishing staff to work from home where possible and other measures to reduce the risk of infections in the workplace.
“For the government, this means preparing for the worst, having a system that works in every corner of the country to detect and care for people in case of large-scale community transmission,” he said.
Already, Kasai said, COVID-19 had upended millions of peoples’ lives and had caused a major economic impact on the world.
He said that the governments in the region were making “extremely complex decisions about introducing or enhancing or easing or lifting lockdowns and physical distancing measures.
“As we move forward in these difficult times, our lives, our health systems and approach to stopping transmission must continue to adapt and evolve along with the epidemic.”
According to him, until a vaccine is found, the process of adapting to the epidemic will have to become a new normal.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to doing this but WHO strongly urges that decisions on measures be guided by public health principles, the lifting of lockdowns, and other measures that need to be done gradually.
“If restrictions are relaxed or lifted before the strong system is in place to identify, isolate and care for this sick, and trace and quarantine their contacts, this will likely lead to a resurgence of diseases.
“As long as the new Coronavirus is circulating, no country is safe from potentially overwhelming outbreaks,” he said.
As at yesterday, Ghana had lifted its three weeks lock down imposed to tackle the spread of the disease.
COVID-19: Body Charges Rivers On Thorough Hand Washing
Amidst fears associated with the dreaded Coronavirus, which has been detected in most states, the Rivers State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), says it has taken necessary precautionary measures to combat the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Speaking while fielding questions from journalists, the General Manager of the Rivers State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Mr. Napoleon Adah, said such measures were aimed at raising awareness on proper and regular hand washing, and the use of alcohol base hand sanitiser.
“As an agency saddled with the responsibility of hand washing and personal hygiene, we are working in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Rivers State Ministry of Health in order to carry out adequate advocacy and sensitisation to the communities on the inherent dangers of COVID-19,” Adah said.
He further commended the Rivers State Governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike for his effective leadership to curb the spread of the virus in Rivers State.
According to him, there are several committees set up by the Governor to create adequate awareness in the area of COVID-19. This, he said has invariably made the state to be Coronavirus free.
The RUWASSA boss, who is also an environmental disaster risk management expert, noted that the agency in collaboration with UNICEF is currently working out modalities to provide automatic hand washing facilities to the various LGAs of Rivers State.
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