Universal healthcare for Nigerians impossible with the TSA – Hon. Chike Okafor

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Achieving UHC for Nigerians is impossible with the TSA – Hon. Chike Okafor

In its quest to provide affordable healthcare to all Nigerians, the National Assembly has revealed plans to rescue the National Health Insurance Scheme alongside other agencies requiring emergency situations from the strongholds of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system of the Federal Government.

The revelation was made during a three-day NHIS management retreat in Kaduna state by the Deputy Chairman of the House of representatives committee on health, Muhammad Usman who represented the chairman, Hon. Chike Okafor.

Speaking during the retreat with theme: “Repositioning the NHIS towards achieving Universal Health Coverage”, Usman said that the quest by NHIS to achieve universal health coverage for Nigerians hangs dangerously in the balance as a result of the

He said, “It is the legislative agenda of the eighth Assembly to ensure that easy access to health care for all Nigerians is achieved; and it is my resolve to give every necessary legislative assistance to ensure the realization of the scheme’s statutory mandate.

“As such, it is my resolve as a legislator to call for the removal of the National Health Insurance Fund from the TSA, as it is wrong, based on the Act establishing the scheme.

“This fund is contributors’ fund and should not be warehoused in the TSA but should be reinvested and the proceeds used for cross-subsidy in the informal sector.

“I would like to introduce a legislative bill to remove it and will need your support in achieving that.

“Such commitment to the future of Nigeria will be the greatest achievement by the health sector and the eighth Assembly Legislative Health Agenda.”

The Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Olanrewaju Tejuoso (Ogun Central) also expressed the readiness of the Senate to “enact a law that will exempt NHIS and other agencies with critical needs from the TSA” because the importance of NHIS will be lost “should the TSA continue to impede the implementation of the programme,” as it would deny Nigerians affordable health care services.

Speaking at the event, NHIS Executive Secretary accepted the regrettable poor performance of the scheme stating that misappropriation of funds and other scams in NHIS have so far surpassed the oil subsidy scam.

He said, “What we have here is not health care financing. This is worse than fuel subsidy. I need to see monies returned by HMOs through the NHIS that were not used.

“The waste I see, the impunity I see, and the political patronage I see make me want to throw up. The President’s mandate is crystal clear: ‘Go and make the NHIS work for all Nigerians.’

“And, all I need is not the bunch of providers or HMOs that do not work. I need a few good ones. If it would take just one, that is the one I will work with. I will have no hesitation to delist any HMO or health care provider that does not work.

“This is not a threat, I get passionate about this. We’ve not been good custodians of what we are entrusted with. Our number is pathetic; it is annoying, number of Nigerians not covered.”

The Kaduna state government also used the event to restate their commitment to partner with the NHIS to improve access to healthcare in the state.

 

 

This story first appeared on punchng.com

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A medical scientist and global health enthusiast. ICFP2016 and AIDS2016 rapporteur, country coordinator (Nigeria) for the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning

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