Abuja – The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) on Monday said that strengthening the Primary Health Care (PHC) system would improve life expectancy in the country.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the scheme, Mr Femi Akingbade, said this in Abuja at a stakeholders’ forum on “Understanding the Roles of Stakeholders in the Emerging NHIS”.
Akingbade said that the poor quality of health care services in PHC facilities had discouraged enrollees in obtaining their treatment from such places.
He also added that some enrollees lacked the required knowledge on the health services they were expected to benefit from their Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs).
“If we have a very good primary health care system, we will cure 80 per cent of some diseases before they advance to a big case.
“We want to change the health care system so that the first point of call for enrollees will be a PHC and not a tertiary centre.
“The workforce in Nigeria is very active between the ages of 15-40 and these are people because of unemployment, economic scourge and so many things cannot afford health care services.
“If we can’t encourage them to access health care facilities, life expectancy will continue to drop in Nigeria,” Akingbade said.
According to him, the indices of poor health facilities need to be reduced so as to build a solid health sector.
He further added that strengthening the PHC would engender the training of public health experts, community health workers that can attend to the health needs of enrollees in their localities.
Akingbade further said that initiating programmes and ideas was good but without the stakeholders’ being part of decision making, the PHC would not work.
He decried that the country had a population of over 150 million, adding that about 10 million people were captured in health insurance programmes.
He said “at least 130 million people are still paying for health out of pocket expenses.
“Insurance is the way to go but the confidence is not there among enrollees and HMOs’’.
The acting executive secretary said that if PHC system were poorly equipped, the NHIS would not have facilities to regulate.
Dr Kolawole Owoka, the Chairman, Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN), said HMOs carried continuous quality health care services.
Owoka added that they manage frequency of medical services and continuous referral system from primary, secondary and tertiary health care among enrollees.
He said: “When you ensure that referrals are introduced and completed, people will make sure their first point of call is PHC.”
[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]He also said that government should encourage Public Private Partnership to ensure that the health care system was well managed.
President, Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, Dr Umar Sanda, said PHC required capacity building to work effectively.
Mrs Idiat Anibilowo, General Manager, Standard and Quality Assurance, NHIS, said that quality healthcare was an optimal balance of health benefits.
Anibilowo said that stakeholders should ensure effectiveness, efficiency, safety, acceptability, equity, accessibility and patient centeredness was their target in handling enrollees.
A NHIS enrollee, Mrs Stella Ngele, said that she was satisfied with the services but more needed to be done in providing the necessary information to enrollees. (NAN)