The World Health Organization (WHO) has promised its support for operationalization of Nigeria’s National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act to end out-of-pocket expenditure in the sector.
The global agency noticed that Nigeria has a high out-of-pocket expenditure of over 70 per cent on health and more than 60 per cent of the population, and in some states, up to 80 per cent in poverty due to ill-health.
Speaking at the first meeting of WHO Health Financing Mission in Nigeria with the NHIA management, yesterday, in Abuja, Technical Officer on Health Financing at WHO, Nigeria, Dr Francis Nwachukwu Ukwuije, advised a path for financial risk protection with the aim of achieving a Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health security.
He noted that the journey to risk protection in Nigeria through mandatory health insurance was important to national development.
His words: “I wish to state that as WHO, we have the mandate to support member-states in their priority areas towards health and national risk protection through health insurance as one of the accelerators that the country has chosen, and also via universal health coverage.”
In his statement, the leader of the delegation and Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Molumbo, noted that WHO believes that implementation of the Act holds the key to transforming access to healthcare in Nigeria for the most populous black nation to attain universal health coverage.
Also speaking, the Director-General of NHIA, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, pointed out that the best way of achieving UHC was to provide financial risk protection for the people, noting that the mechanism to attain this remains compulsory health insurance.
He said that with the signing of the Act by President Muhammadu Buhari two months ago, the trajectory and roadmap for attaining UHC in Nigeria had been clearly explained, hence the need to ensure that the law is not only operationalized, but also put into the best use for the rising population.
Sambo stressed that the NHIA Act had made provisions for the establishment of a Vulnerable Group Fund to cater for the health insurance of 92 million Nigerians.