By Kemi Yesufu
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said President Muhammadu Buhari appointed a new Executive-Secretary for the National Health Insurance Scheme to bring an end to the controversies that plagued the agency
Speaking on the second day of the Two-Day NHIS Strategic Engagement with Enrollees and Healthcare Providers Forum held in Abuja on Thursday, the minister called on stakeholders to embrace the move by government to reposition the NHIS.
He said: “You will all recall that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been of particular concern in recent times, following some protracted crisis with significant impact on its leadership and operations”.
“However, the timely intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari has arrested the drift, with the appointment of a new Chief Executive, in the person of Professor Muhammad Nasir Sambo, who has set up this platform and invited all of us, as well as the constitution of an Independent Fact Finding Panel whose recommendations are currently being implemented by various units of the federal government.
“I am happy to state that I have received from the Executive Secretary, a thoroughly comprehensive briefing on the reforms that are going on in the institution. These reforms give me confidence that ultimately NHIS will receive not just a facelift, but a total revitalization”.
“It is on the strength of this that I wish to seize this opportunity to call on all stakeholders to take full advantage of the reforms to engage in frank conversations around the issues that have dogged the wheels of the Scheme in the past, so that we can chart a better course as we go into the future.
“Of particular concern here are the Health Care Providers accredited under the Scheme, who are invariably very critical stakeholders of NHIS.
“This is particularly so, when you consider that the providers are the ones among the stakeholders with the most frequent and intimate enrolee encounter. The import of this is that most impressions of the enrolee about NHIS are formed from their experiences at the service point, giving the providers the privilege to influence largely the image of the Scheme”, the minister added.
In his speech, NHIS Executive Secretary, Sambo, also called for all hands to be on deck to move the agency forward.
“This engagement, is no doubt, an important one, which is intended to bring all of us to a common forum, where issues bordering on healthcare service delivery to all Nigerians can freely be ventilated. It also affords us the opportunity to x-ray the gaps in the implementation strategies of the various programmes, by re-examining our collective statutory roles, especially as outlined in the extant NHIS Act and the Operational Guidelines.
“In the course of this engagement, we shall look at ourselves in the eyes and ask pertinent questions with the aim of identifying the points that failed to connect with the fundamental objectives of the Scheme and provide solutions accordingly. I therefore urge the healthcare providers here present to roll up their sleeves, for the task which is ahead of us is enormous. It is pertinent to remind you that, the provision of qualitative and affordable healthcare service delivery to all Nigerians through the NHIS is one of the key priority areas of the administration President Muhammadu Buhari, which aligns with the global agenda for achieving Universal Health Coverage advocated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In this regard, the healthcare providers no doubt play a pivotal role in achieving this objective”, Sambo said.