“NHIA will ensure coverage of more Nigerians under health insurance” – DG nominee

Sharon EboesomiFebruary 21, 20243 min

The Senate Committee on Health chaired by Senator Ipalibo Harry-Banigo screened the NHIA DG nominee, Dr Kelechi Ohiri.

“NHIA will ensure coverage of more Nigerians under health insurance” - DG nominee

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

Ohiri made this known during his screening by the Senate Committee on Health on Tuesday.

The nominee stated in his presentation that it was a fact that a small percentage of Nigerians were financially shielded from the cost of medical care.

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

“This number has been under 10 percent since inception. It 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.”

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He claimed that there were numerous explanations for the low numbers, such as the policy framework, awareness, and issues 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 mandatory. 

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

According to him, there was a lack of awareness of health insurance as a veritable tool for financial protection.

“We have about 70 percent 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.

“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.”

Senator Ipalibo Banigo (PDP, Rivers West), the committee’s chair, had earlier questioned the nominee about how he intended to determine the precise number of people in the formal and informal sectors who are covered by health insurance.

According to her, health insurance is the best option because it lowers citizens’ out-of-pocket costs.

She did, however, implore the nominee to make sure that the vulnerable group fund was used efficiently and effectively and that it truly made a difference in the lives of young children, expectant mothers, and the aged over 60.

Sharon Eboesomi

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