NHIA ‘ll ensure coverage of more Nigerians under health insurance-D-G nominee


By Haruna Salami

Dr Kelechi Ohiri, the Director-General nominee for the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says he would ensure coverage of more Nigerians under health insurance.

Ohiri made this known on Tuesday at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, during his screening by the Senate Committee on Health.

In his presentation, the nominee said that it was absolutely true that very few Nigerians had financial protection from cost of health care.

“The number we have showed that less than seven per cent of Nigerians are protected, are covered.

“This number has been under 10 per cent since inception. It is one that is quite low, and it is one we need to improve upon if Nigeria is to be on the path of universal health care coverage.”

He said that there were many reasons as to why these numbers were low including the policy frame work, the issue of awareness and the issue of trust.

“Health insurance has been one of the many things that the government has introduced to improve access to care and as such it was voluntary.

“With the passage of the NHIA act in 2022, we now have health insurance been mandatory.

“For insurance to work, that mandate is a critical part of actually driving and improving coverage.”

Ohiri said that indeed there was no awareness of health insurance as a veritable tool for financial protection.

“Some of it is cultural, some of it is more work and effort that is needed on our path to educate fellow Nigerians on this.

“We have about 70 per cent of Nigerians who still pay for care out of pocket or privately and this means that they are vulnerable to the shocks, they are vulnerable to the rising cost of health care.

“Bringing a lot of these under the umbrella of health insurance will enable us to increase coverage,” he said.

Ohiri further said that there were some Nigerians that did not have the pocket, the premiums that were required for insurance.

“This is where interventions come in such as the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, and recently the Vulnerable Group Fund.

“These are three fundamental things we need to address to begin to increase the coverage of health insurance.”

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Earlier, chairperson of the committee, Sen. Banigo Ipalibo asked the nominee on how he proposed to get the exact numbers of persons covered by health insurance both in the formal and informal sectors

She said that without gainsaying, health insurance was the way to go saying it will reduce out of pocket expenses for citizens.

Ipalibo urged the nominee to ensure that the vulnerable group fund was utilised effectively and effectually and how it can really touch the lives of children under five years, pregnant women and the elderly above 60.

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