Everyone, both young and old, desire good health and it is the responsibility of the Government to provide its citizens with excellent hospitals fully equipped with standardized apparatus. It was on this ground that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was created by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 1999. NHIS sole objective is to provide universal health care for all Nigerians.
One group of people who should benefit from NHIS are children (I’m not saying that adults should not be properly taken care of health wise). This is because children are very different from adults and are incapable of taking decisions as it concerns their health thereby relying on their parents for healthcare services. Children’s growth and development are rapid compared to adults and as such, they are at peril to illnesses and sustaining injuries. Where their illnesses are undiagnosed and untreated, it could affect them physically, emotionally or mentally.
ROADBLOCKS ENCOUNTERED BY THE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME
Several years after the establishment of the Scheme, insurance in the nation is still been affected by several challenges such as misunderstanding of the standard of health insurance amongst both healthcare donors and patients, pre-authorization policy for getting primary healthcare, insufficient knowledge of the current NHIS Act, and lack of modern products and responsiveness, thus making about 160 million Nigerians (according to Nigeria Bureau of Statistics) to be without health insurance cover. Only few State Governments have adopted the National Health Insurance Scheme in their States and there is need for other State Governments to join in this scheme.
Due to the increased rate of deaths especially amongst children, the Federal Government of Nigeria is about inaugurating a NHIS school programme for children between the ages of 6 years to 12 years. The programme which is to kick off in September 2014 will help children get access to health care in the nation as the children will be given free treatment.
Also, women and children who are under five years living in the rural settlements or areas where drugs, good hospitals and health centres are not available will likewise benefit from this programme which was proposed to reduce preventable deaths.Statistics has shown that over 33,000 pregnant women benefited from NHIS in 2014 first quarter as opposed to about 11,000 that benefited in 2013.
A CALL FOR GREATER SUPPORT
For the health system to deliver on its promise in providing access to healthcare for all class of people, it has to be sufficiently funded. So far, so much funds has been put in by the government to support the scheme, therefore it is pertinent that everyone (especially women) support this scheme. Though the populace has shared in financing government health services through the purchase of drugs and payment of consultation fees, there is still need to increase our assistance more than what we are presently doing. Also, the three tiers of government should create an efficient funding source for NHIS as this will reduce the pressure of funding by the citizens to the scheme and also it will address healthcare issues properly.