As high out-of-pocket payment continue to dominate Nigeria’s healthcare spending and absence of financial protection leading most Nigerians to depend on out-of-pocket payment for healthcare, Nigeria’s quest to attain 30 percent universal health coverage this year remains upbeat among stakeholders that believe for Universal Health Coverage be a reality in Nigeria, health Insurance must be a compulsory policy.
While ensuring countries are able to speed progress towards universally accessible, affordable, high-quality services, experts say that leapfrogging sub-optimal health outcomes would require strategic investments into most scalable and transformative innovations as well as effective governance, project and change management skills to implement them.
Speaking at a recent World Economic Forum Annual meeting which featured 50+ high-level attendees from private and public sectors from 20+ different countries in Switzerland, Dr.Femi Thomas, executive secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), explained that there is the need for clever, cost- effective innovations to invest money in for sustainable, paradigm-shifting solutions.
Dr. Thomas noted that the National Mobile Health Insurance Programme (NMHIP) is a game changer that will revolutionize the industry and establish the Scheme as the heartbeat of the health sector. He disclosed that the digitalization of the health insurance industry, which is currently being processed, is one of the latest initiatives to ease public access to the programmes of NHIS, as part of the overall focus on achieving and surpassing the presidential mandate of 30 percent coverage by 2015 and universal health coverage.
“Mobile Health Insurance is a platform for the application of information technology in the operations of the NHIS, and it involves automatic online registration including choice of HCFs and HMOs. Modalities are in place to eliminate fraud in the process by facilitating identification, using telephone numbers, NHIS number or thumb print, as the case may be, through a central Health Insurance Information Exchange that transmits all related transactions to relevant stakeholders.
“The programme will leapfrog health insurance coverage, while eliminating the critical delays associated with operations in areas of registration, encounter data collection, referral, subsidy gap funding, monitoring and quality assurance,” Dr. Thomas said at an earlier interview.
Vincent Forlenza, CEO and Chairman, Becton, Dickinson and Company noted that It is not the lack of good ideas but effective operating and delivery models that challenge the uptake of leapfrogging.
For Dr. Ola Soyinka, commissioner for Health, Ogun State, Leapfrogging means going back to basics for us – strengthen Primary Healthcare Centres as foundation of an ideal health system.
Although governments and the private sector often acknowledge the importance of healthcare in emerging economies, analysts believe that they often fail to deliver quality, affordable care. Barriers to providing such care include unclear definitions of effective delivery systems, misalignment of incentives between public and private partners and an overall lack of coordination.
Overcoming these barriers, analysts call for new strategies for designing leapfrogging packages, creating new operating models and delivery systems. Pertinent issues remains how can a package of mutually-reinforcing leapfrogging initiatives be designed: what operating models must be developed to ensure successful implementation and how can well designed leapfrogging packages be delivered and scaled up?
These concepts were applied in two county contexts – Ogun State, Nigeria and South Africa – both with a strong focus on primary care. In the Ogun State case study, a package of mutually reinforcing leapfrogging initiatives was designed in December, 2014. The main component is a universal health insurance scheme that was designed as a first step to strengthen the primary healthcare system. In South Africa, the efforts will be anchored around the government’s plan to make all its primary level clinics ideal.