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Health insurance key to attaining Universal Health Coverage – Prof Sambo

Prof Mohammed Sambo

By Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja

The Director General of the National Health Insurance Authority(NHIA), Prof Mohammed Sambo has said that health insurance is a veritable tool in attaining Universal Health Coverage, UHC.

The NHIA boss who at the 6th Annual Conference of Health Journalists in Nasarawa State said, signing of the National Health Insurance Authority Bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari was a great feat to the health sector. 

Represented by the Manager,  Public Affairs, Emmanuel Ononokpono, Prof Sambo notedthat the development would make universal health coverage accessible to all Nigerians.

Sambo in his presentation titled: “Health Insurance: Can NHIA deliver?” said though the implementation of health insurance has suffered setback over the years, the signing into law of the Act would go a long way in  improving the health of Nigerians.

He disclosed that already, the agency has developed  a strategic plan on the roles of all  stakeholders, activities and timelines as well as cost implications.

“There is a strategic plan document sets out in elaborate terms the roles of all  stakeholders, activities and timelines as well as cost implications of all  initiatives within the ten-year period. Going forward all efforts will be brought to align with the strategic plan.

“We strongly believe that with this Act, there are clear chances for Nigeria to  attain the UHC in 2030”, Prof Sambo added.

He further disclosed that the Agency under his watch employed about 190 health professionals to boost operations since his appointment in 2019.

According ro him, the NHIS offices, had just one nurse which means  that the man who read History or Mass Communication would be the one to access the hospital tos tell whether this is a stethoscope or not and that worsened the situation at that time.

He said: “So, prof Sambo had to find a way and engage in a very transparent manner 190 medical persons, five in each state across Nigeria, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and (medical) laboratory scientists.

“Now, we don’t have to send people from the head office to go to the states to conduct quality assurance again; the state offices can handle it.”

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He added that  politicking and wranglings almost consumed the agency under his predecessors, resulting in the public losing confidence in the organization.

He questioned why the government could not allocate at least an oil block to the 83 million vulnerable to fund health insurance in the country. 

“If the government could give oil blocks to individuals, why can’t it give to 83 million vulnerable Nigerians? A retired General told us some time ago how he sold his oil block for $500 million.”

Earlier in his remarks, the President of ANHEJ,  Hassan Zaggi had called on the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to work hard and present to Nigerians different affordable models that will enable them enroll in health insurance.

Zaggi also announced that the Association of Nigeria of Health Journalists has concluded plans to launch a health insurance for its members next month.

He disclosed that the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) has committed to support the Association to achieve this.

“For the first phase, we are considering enrolling up to 50 health journalists. The selection process will be very stringent with performance as one of the criteria for enrollment”, he said.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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