In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Mr. Udo Mark, the Head of Planning, Research and Monitoring Unit of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, revealed the factors leading to slow community-based health insurance scheme in Nigeria.

Mr. Mark said: “We have expended a lot of efforts, resources, time towards ensuring that communities understand and fold (key) into the community-based health insurance programme of the scheme.

“It hasn’t been easy, health insurance is a new thing in Nigeria and an average rural dweller does not understand it. In fact, their psychic is that once you embrace such a programme, it means you are calling for sickness.

“So, that is some of the stereotype we have been trying to really erase. It hasn’t been easy.”

He also raised the issue of funding as a leading factor. He said: “The community-based health insurance programme is a community-owned programme. The idea is that the community funds it; the NHIS offers collateral benefits to communities that embrace the programme.

“Collateral benefits in form of payment for their children under five years of participating members (of the community) and we also give some amounts as seed-grants, to enable them take-off effectively.’’

He noted that only three communities have embraced the scheme in Enugu State. He also noted that NHIS officials had made in-road and introduced the programme to most communities in the 17 local council areas of the state.

“No fewer than 15 communities each within each of the 17 council areas of Enugu State have been addressed and their leadership educated on the benefits of the community-based scheme.

“However, we will never give up since the community-based scheme is the only way NHIS could reach every Nigerian and contribute its quota to the betterment of lives of Nigerians as well as reducing poverty, especially at rural communities.’’

Speaking about the way forward, Mr. Udo Mark said that the agency was negotiating with the state government through the commissioner for health to see how the state or local government could provide for funding and sensitization.

He said “we are also meeting with philanthropists and organisations to see how they would help communities overcome issue of funding for the scheme.

“We believe on the positive derivable the community-based scheme could bring and we are pushing hard on it, notwithstanding the challenges.’’

Author: Ope Adedeji