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Ifenne Laments Low Coverage of NHIS in Nigeria

By Dipo Olowookere

Chairperson of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mrs Enyantu Ifenne, has lamented the low level of participation of Nigerians in the health programme.

Speaking yesterday during a press conference, Mrs Ifenne said in order to make improvement in the participation, the board has set a moderate target of 10 percent increase annually.

She noted that the board was prepared to change the current trend that places the enrollee at the bottom of the ladder.

According to her, enrollee would be moved to the top of the ladder; stressing that the satisfaction of the enrollee would be the watch word in the new dispensation.

The NHIS chairperson disclosed that to make this work, the board has carried out another re-accreditation exercise for the 57 Health Management Organisations (HMOs) operating in the country.

She said after the test, 23 HMOs were de-registered for failing to meet up with the minimum operational standards expected of them.

“It is humiliating the fact that health facilities are reluctant to accept NHIS lives (Enrollee) is an indictment on NHIS as public entity because what we see with this reaccreditation is accumulation of regulatory failure.

“Accreditation should not be the only time we know that the company is bankrupt or nonexistence or sold to South African entity. If we were up and doing and on our toes in applying the regulatory powers giving us under the law, this should not happen. And this board is committed; this will not be allowed to happen.

“We have directed management to submit to us at the next board meeting the protocol and plan of regulation of HMOs. We will approve and put in place immediately this includes monthly returns, examine their accounts because we have the power to examine their accounts. So we will know when they are defaulting.

“We are committed to flipping the organogram. The value chain, currently, the NHIS at the top, the HMOs, the healthcare providers are the next rung and the enrollee are at the bottom and are caught in the veil of the power tussle.

“Elephants have been fighting, grass is hurt. Grass is the people we call enrollee. I hate that word. Enrollee just reminds me as if they were conscripted. They have no choice, no actions that they have to take poor service whether they like it or not or opt out,” Mrs Ifenne said.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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