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97% of Nigerians lack health coverage

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By Mercy Kelani

International Universal Health Coverage Day was proclaimed on December 12, 2017.

On December 12, 2012 the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution (A/RES/67/81) that encourages all countries to speed up progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The resolution also agreed to the inclusion of UHC in the discussions on the post-2015 development agenda relating to global health challenges, considering Whole-of-Government (WOG) and Whole-of-Society (WOS) approaches. Subsequently, on December 12, 2017, proclamation of December 12 as International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) by resolution (A/RES/72/138) was made by the United Nations.

UHC partners share UHC stories since December 2017, for the purpose of learning from achievements and raising awareness for bigger and smarter investments so as to build stronger and resilient systems. This move will also raise partners to be committed towards moving the world closer to UHC vision. Universal Health Coverage has been a vital goal for the Sustainable Development agenda as it has been highlighted in all global health mechanisms – the work programs of the World Health Organization inclusive.

UHC ensures everyone access to health services without financial hardship.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) ensures accessibility of all to required health services, when and where needed, with no financial hardship whatsoever. This accessibility entails inclusion of total range of essential health services – health promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care through the life course. Proper delivery of these services depends on the adequacy and competency of health and care workers who possess optimal skills at facility, outreach and community level; they should also be workers who are distributed equitably with adequate support and fans of decent work.

The strategies of UHC provide everyone access to services that tackle major causes of diseases and death, ensuring better quality of those services for improvement of the health of those who receive them. Also, protection of people from financial detriments of paying for health services from their pockets leads to a reduction of Poverty risks amongst people due to the fact that unexpected illnesses could make them squander their life savings and sell assets which could affect their lives and their children’s.

Nigerians without formal employment lack health insurance.

In 2018, Nigeria was regarded the third highest country with a record of the highest out-of-pocket health spending. It was discovered that 97 percent of the population of Nigeria is not covered by any form of health insurance, while 3 percent of the population who benefit from health Insurance are under the provision of employee health coverage. However, 56.7 percent of those who have health insurance are men, while 43.3 percent of them are women.

Resultantly, Nigerians without formal employment therefore lack access to affordable healthcare. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has, likewise, been unable to help Nigerians who are not in employment cycle despite the introduction of various health insurance programs. In total, the coverage rate of other introduced programs was below one percent of Nigerians who are covered by health insurance. As a result of the inaccessibility, the alternative to health insurance becomes out-of-pocket spending on health.

Health insurance for all Nigerians should be optimized.

Considering the undeniable benefit of health insurance, there arises a need for the optimization of health insurance for every Nigerian especially for the likes of Artisans who are not into formal employment. Enactment of the sub-national health insurance scheme will provide extensive coverage of eligible people, particularly for people in rural communities. It was also emphasized that to improve health insurance coverage, the government should create cost reduction policies that focus on the improvement of the benefit of participation.


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