New public opinion poll highlights Nigeria’s dysfunctional healthcare system

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WED, AUGUST 30 2017-theG&BJournal-The NOIPOLLS, Nigeria’s leading country-specific polling services company, has published a new poll which it said is contrary to the main objective of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) aimed at securing universal health coverage and access to adequate and affordable healthcare in order to improve the health status of Nigerians.

NOIPOLLS say also that the finding highlights a critical low hanging fruit for stakeholders in the health sector, as part of a wider range of solutions to broadening the pool of funds and achieving more sustainable health financing and coverage for all Nigerians.

The Health Insurance Snap Poll conducted by NOIPolls in the week of August 1st 2017, revealed that almost 9 in 10 adult Nigerians (89 percent) pay out of pocket for health care services, as they do not have any form of health insurance. It also revealed that only 9 percent of the respondents claimed they have some form of health insurance, of which 71 percent indicated NHIS and 21 percent indicated Private Health Management Organizations (HMOs) as their provider.

According to the polls finding, “While insurance cover for all Nigerians is still a far cry from the industry’s expectation, on the bright side, a significant proportion of Nigerians (78 percent) who are currently not covered expressed willingness to pay a small amount of money monthly/yearly to get enrolled for health coverage.”

The pollster advised that it is now pertinent for all stakeholders within the health sector, particularly NHIS, HMOs, Hospitals, CBOs and FBOs to engage in mass mobilisation of the general public, especially the poor and vulnerable, to leverage on the benefits of health insurance.

The National Health Insurance Scheme, established in 1999 and officially launched in 2005, ought to have been the biggest over-haul of Nigeria’s healthcare system. It is enacted to ensure access to good, qualitative and cost-effective health care services to every health care insured Nigerian citizen and a number of his dependents. It is meant also to protect such insured Nigerian families from exorbitant medical bills arising from their not having any health care insurance cover.

Similarly, the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) were established to ensure the overall success of the NHIS by facilitating affordable and high quality Medicare for Nigerians. In order to ensure that all segments of the society are covered, such as the formal sector, self-employed and rural community, children under five, the disabled, prison inmates, tertiary institutions and armed forces, the NHIS developed various programmes to reach these areas.

But these findings clearly highlight the low penetration of health insurance across the country and the failure of the law itself.

In this regard, the NOIPOLLS notes that while it is critical for government to re-evaluate its current budgetary allocation to the health sector; it is also important for stakeholders to consider more sustainable ways to finance of the sector through health insurance, and to mobilise the public to increase the pool of funds available for investment into the sector.

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