By PHILIP YATAI
Kano- Save the Children International (SCI), an NGO, says the new National Health Insurance
Authority (NHIA) Act 2022 will accelerate Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.
Mr Ifedilichukwu Ekene-Innocent, the Advocacy, Campaign and Policy Manager of the organisation, said this in an interview
with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday while reacting to the signing of the NHIA Act by President
NAN reports that Buhari signed the new health insurance law on Thursday, to end the old National Health Insurance Scheme
(NHIS), saying “as part of our healthcare reforms, I have signed into law, the recently passed National
Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022, which repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme Act.
“We will ensure full implementation of the new Act to provide coverage for all Nigerians,” Buhari said.
According to the president, the new law will work in line with state governments’ health insurance schemes
by empowering them to accredit primary and secondary healthcare facilities and ensure the enrollment of Nigerians.
Buhari also pledged that a Fund would be set aside to ensure coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who could not
afford to pay premiums as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission.
The president explained that a Vulnerable Group Fund would also be set up for vulnerable Nigerians who
are not able to pay health insurance premiums.
Ekene-Innocent, therefore, told NAN on the sideline of a two-day meeting to validate the Kaduna State Healthcare
Financing Policy and Strategy (KSHFPS) taking place in Kano that the law is critical to the attainment of UHC.
The manager, who explained that “UHC means that all individuals and communities will receive the health services
they need without suffering financial hardship”, commended the president for the giant stride.
He said the signing of the NHIA Act was a crucial step toward reducing out-of-pocket expenditure on health services.
He, however, called for the setting up of accountability mechanisms at the federal and state levels to monitor implementation and
the funds that would be geared toward providing healthcare services to the people.
He added that “this is crucial, considering the different streams of funds that will be coming into the states to improve healthcare services.
“For example, there is the Basic Health Care Provision Fund that needs to be tracked.
“The new law also made provision for setting up of a Vulnerable Group Fund to ensure coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians. This also needs to be tracked.
“The goal is to ensure that the allocated funds were spent on what they were meant for, to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure and accelerate
universal health coverage.”
The new Act also enables the authority and state governments to develop information management systems and digital records for
better data collection, monitoring and quality assurance. (NAN)