The Nigerian Media has been advised to educate the public on the National Healthcare Insurance law. The Director General of the National Health insurance Authority, Professor Muhammed Sambo gave the advice at the agency’s Regular News Conference, in Abuja.
Professor Sambo said that “with the signing into law of the National Health Insurance Act law, which makes health insurance compulsory, it behooves the media to intensify the education of the people.”
“From the moment Mr. President put pen to paper, health insurance became mandatory. The NHIA across empowers the Authority to see to it that all Nigerians and legal residents have health insurance. This is a complete departure from the previous law that made health insurance optional.”
According to him, the NHIA Act which brings renewed prospects for the delivery of effective health insurance in Nigeria fundamentally resets the ecosystem.
Professor Sambo also noted that the Authority would co-exist with State systems and other stakeholders as the law provides that NHIA would promote, regulate and integrate through the ecosystem.
“Significantly, the law provides for the establishment of the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF) and outlines sources of funding for it. For the record, nowhere does the law impose a telecom tax as a source of funding. This workshop will shed light on that. The nomenclature of the leadership of the agency is designated as Director General. Nominees for that office will go through the Senate confirmation process. The composition of the Governing Council has also been reviewed, from 11 to 15 member boards,” he explained.
Professor Sambo stressed that days after the passage of the law, the management of the Authority went into a 2-days retreat to fully comprehend every provision, ahead of the implementation of the Law.
He said; “Due to the importance of carrying all stakeholders along, we have held engagements with Development partners, Commissioners for Health, and Chief Executive Officers of State Social Health Insurance Agencies (SSHIAs).
“Today, it’s the turn of members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm. So Permit me to stress that this workshop is being held in recognition of the implicit capacity of the media for education and advocacy.”
Professor Sambo also said that currently, the most important work before the agency was the strategic implementation of the NHIA Act, for the benefit of Nigerians.
He said that the weeklong visit by a high-level World Health Organisation mission to the agency gives credence to the urgency with which the act is to be implemented.
“May I add that the importance of this Act is further underscored by the recent visit of a high-level mission from the WHO to the agency. When they learned of the Act they decided to send a team of health financing experts to come down and assess the country’s preparedness. At the end of their week-long visit, they were satisfied and pledged their support in relevant areas,” Professor Sambo.
He added that with the new law, the issue of delays of enrollees in hospitals and issues of Health Management Organisations would be a thing of the past.