Committee for Retirees, Elderly presents second report to Dr Ehanire

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By Joy Odor

The Ministerial Committee for the Provision of National Health Insurance to Retirees and Elderly has made a formal second presentation of its report to the Minister of Health, Dr Osigie Ehanire.

In his speech shortly after receiving the report from the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee, Mr Linus Awute who led the Committee members in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister said the report shows that the Committee delivered on the job and it speaks volume to the character and commitment to duty of the members.

Dr. Ehanire informed that as a country, Nigeria is a signatory to several global initiatives and committed to the health and development of her citizens, saying as a Ministry, they have the mandate to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all Nigerians.

The Ministry noted that inclusion of elderly in NHIS is in accordance with the Ministry vision to attain Universal Health Coverage that is “Leaving No One Behind”.

“Other interventions by FMoH to ensure inclusion of senior citizens, he said are the creation of an Elderly branch in GASHE Division of Family Health Department in 2008 to formulate Policy, guidelines and Action Plans for the health care and well-being of the older persons.

“In 2016, the Ministry created a project called Health Program for Improved Quality Care (HEPIQ-C). Both the Elderly care program and HEPIQ-C Project have worked assiduously to ensure that good health and well-being of the elderly are taken care of.

“In 2018, the FMOH embarked on the establishment of six (6) Geriatric centers; one in each of the 6-geo-political zones. The project is on course.

“I can recall that I inaugurated this Committee (The Ministerial Committee for the Provision of NHIS to Retirees and Elderly) on the 30th November, 2020 with a clear ToR.

“Your committee was inaugurated as part of Mr. President’s commitment to improving the quality of care of the Elderly through provision of health insurance, with the following Terms of Reference (TOR): To assess the current situation of health Insurance coverage and access to health care for retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria.

“To develop a National Framework for the effective Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens

“To make recommendations to the Honorable Minister of Health on the potential resource mobilization as well as other mechanisms for the successful implementation of the framework.

“To undertake any other activity that will facilitate the Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens in Nigeria.

“From the ToR the task of the committee was challenging and difficult. In less than 2 years, you submitted the Draft Report in June 2022 and today, you have just made the formal presentation of the report” he stressed.

Dr Ehanire disclosed that the report is apt, and assured that the recommendations would be carefully studied and implemented as Government places a lot of premium on output of the committee and the Ministry is extremely grateful.

Earlier in his PowerPoint presentation of the report, the Chairman of the Committee, Dr Linus Awute summarized that Nigeria can generate up to N547.58 million per annum from the introduction of Telecom levy on Nigerians at the rate of 2k/seconds at an assumed average of 5 minutes per day per person.

According to him, this can provide the resources needed for the coverage of all the older persons in Nigeria and expand the fiscal space for targeted coverage of other vulnerable groups.

He said for this to be effective, tye source must be earmarked for demand side funding for UHC through health insurance which is the most efficient mechanism for the purpose.

“Government should increase in healthcare for coverage of health insurance coverage of older persons for a plurality. Financing system should be adopted with the signing of the NHIA Law. The health insurance Levy can be financed using any of the innovative financing options proposed.

“Bold supply side reforms needs to free more funds for government. Strong political will and consensus building required to carryout reform. Existing administrative structure such as NHIA, needs to be strengthened and used for the implementation.

Awute concluded that providing social protection, including health insurance for the older persons is critical to improve the quality of their lives.

“The Report highlighted the importance of providing access to healthcare and financial protection to the older persons given the financial challenges due to limited source of the resources.

“The report concluded that setting up the Committee is a patriotic and welcome decision that would not improve the DALYs but also empower older persons in other social areas such as nutrition in overall poverty reduction.

“It laid down robust funding options that if adopted, would ensure sustainability of the programme and reduce dependence on government already burdened by fiscal constraints in the face of increasing demand ” Awute added.

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