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.
World Sight Day: 250 Benefit From Free Eye Screening, Medication
As part of events marking the 2019 World Sight Day (WSD), the International Association of Lions Clubs, District 404-A2, Nigeria, Region 6 Screened 250 persons in Port Harcourt.
The exercise, which witnessed free eye screening, treatment and medication for indigent persons in Rivers State, was part of the clubs’ contribution to society.
Making this know in a post-screening interview, the Region Secretary, Lion Sarah Walter George said all the 250 persons screened had one from of eye problem or the other.
“Some of the problems such as inflammation in the eyes only required administering of eye drops and other medications for a given period, depending on the case. The more serious cases were referred”, she said.
Lion George continued that the focus on embarking on the eye screening was necessitated by the fact that many individuals are not aware that even when they can see, they still need to go for eye test.
“Now, all the 250 persons tested had eye challenges, which they would not have known if this exercise had not taken place”, she said.
George, who represented the Region Chairman, Lion Rodney Ambaiowei, therefore, used the opportunity to call on people to go for regular eye checks to avoid going blind gradually.
Also speaking, one of the doctors involved in the screening exercise, Dr Usiaphre Eloho Evonny, stated that most of the cases screened were refractive.
According to her, “some people cannot read, while some can’t see from far or near, and there were cases of cataract that requires surgery.
She further stated that as at press time, there were over 100 refractive cases diagnosed.
Highlights of the occasion was the distribution of eye glasses and drugs to cases that required it.
A total of seven lions clubs in the region collaborated in the exercise, which took place at the Abali Park, Port Harcourt.
They are PHC Crystal Lions, PHC new Garden City Lion Club, Nigeria Delta, Lions Club, PHC Pearl Lions Club, PHC Omega Lions Club, PHC Metro Lions Club, and Bonny Island Lions Club.
NMA Wants FG To Include Unknown Patients In NHIS
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has urged the Federal Government to evolve a policy that will include the care of unknown patients in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Chairman, Lagos State Chapter of NMA, Dr Saliu Oseni, made the call in a statement in commemoration of the 2019 Physicians’ Week yesterday in Lagos.
The Physicians’ Week is an annual event of the association that holds nationwide between October 14 and October 19.
Oseni said that the state chapter would hold a scientific conference on October 16 with the theme: “Care of the Unknown Patient: Policy Overview and Review.”
He decried the absence of an existing policy in the care of unknown patients which had denied such patients easy access to qualitative health care in private and public hospitals.
“We know that a lot of these patients are brought to the hospital by good Samaritans who are not expected to be responsible for the bills incurred after treatment.
“A lot of these cases are victims of road traffic accidents; consequently access to care might be delayed as the provider is worried about who pays the bills.
“This means even where there is a private hospital close by, access to care may not be guaranteed,” he said.
Breast Cancer: MWAN Calls For Regular Screening
Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Rivers State Chapter, has urged females to get vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus, an organism that causes cervical cancer.
The President of MWAN, Rivers State Chapter, Dr. Ibimonye Porbeni, who stated this during a Breast Cancer Awareness Walk in Port Harcourt, stressed that early stage diagnose of cervical, prostrate and breast cancer can be cured.
Dr Porbeni noted that breast cancer is the commonest and major public health problem affecting women worldwide followed by cancer of the cervix.
She stated that young girls from nine years and above need to vaccinate themselves against the Human Papilloma Virus as they can also be affected.
“The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine is gotten in University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, and Medical Women Center, Port Harcourt. Young girls of nine years and above can actually vaccinate themselves against the virus”, she said.
According to her, when vaccinated three times, young girls can actually be protected from the virus, while older women have to do Pap smear once a year, and visit a gynecologist to be examined,
She further advised men to start prostrate cancer screening early from age of thirty-five (35) years as it is commonly seen in older men.
Porbeni however, urged women to go for Mammography examination on the breast in Medical Women Center for early screening.
Also speaking, Dr. Rosemary Ogu, Obstetrician Gynecologist, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, urged women to conduct self breast examination to prevent and ensure no negative changes in breast size or shape, lumps or thickening within the breast.
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