The National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, and the Rivers State Ministry of Health are in collaboration for increased uptake of health insurance in the state.
At a Town Hall Meeting held on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at De Primed Hotel, Port Harcourt, attended by the state civil servants and other stakeholders, the NHIS Authority, Mrs. Belinda Fubara said the essence of the event was basically to sensitize the public on their responsibilities towards good health.
“We are all aware of the essence of health but we run away from the responsibilities. In as much as we need health, and we need to get well, the steps to take most times, the citizens withdraw from them”, she said.
Mrs. Fubara added that the forum was put together to increase awareness and also help the process of bringing the Rivers State Social Health Insurance Scheme come to play.
“Rivers State is the only state that has not keyed into State Social Health Insurance Scheme unlike the other states”, she noted, adding that NHIS, as a regulatory body, was in the state to ensure that the Health Insurance Scheme comes to limelight, and to also enlighten other civil society groups in the country on the steps they are to take, going forward.
Speaking on the benefits of NHIS, Mrs. Fubara said: “Health is wealth and it is a healthy person that can take that responsibility in the community. So, the benefit of this programme is for people to know the importance of health and awaken”.
In her contribution, the acting director, Rivers State Ministry of Health, Dr. Betty Agala said everyone working in Nigeria and Rivers State should be able to access basic quality health care.
Dr. Agala stressed that the Rivers State Ministry of Health through the state government, is doing a lot to ensure the good health of the people, pointing out that the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital has been upgraded to a teaching hospital with qualified medical personnel and the School of Nursing and the College of Health Technology are also there as part of government efforts to provide quality health care for the people.
“There are primary health cares in all the LGAs and in addition to that, each LGA in the state has one general hospital with good facilities,” she further explained.
She said the Health Insurance in Rivers State has a law for contributory health fund, revealing that the state government has been setting aside two percent of its revenue for health since 2019.
“The NHIS mandate is for all to have quality, accessible and affordable health care. The primary health care is working, the secondary and tertiary levels are also working. The Teaching Hospital is for research, and not an everyday thing”, Dr. Agala maintained.
She said their target is that there should be one functional health facility for every ward, explaining that one should first identify with the primary health care before moving to the secondary level.
A representative of the Rivers State Women Affairs ministry commended the town hall meeting. While noting that everyone came from the communities, she appealed that all should do everything possible to protect government facilities in the communities from being vandalized because the women suffer a lot.
“Each time you destroy government facility, you take us back. Each time you go to court you waste government resources. We should not vandalize government property”, she urged.
Mrs. Amaka Emodi, the HMO, NHIS, observed that a lot of people don’t know the importance of health care and explained that the health insurance is a plan, “to package your life, it is not limited, it is of different categories”.
“In Nigeria today, medicare is expensive but with health insurance, it is made easy. There is need for all to take to health insurance, hence it is to help you plan your life well”, Mrs. Emodi said, as she urged all to see the need to enrol in the scheme.
She said there are three categories of enrolment: individual, family and groups, and the scheme offers opportunity of going to any hospital of choice in the nation as the NHIS has offices in all the states of the federation.