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Accessible healthcare: ARD president urges expansion of NHIS scope

Dr Ifeanyi Ndukwe, the President of the Association of Resident Doctors, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi chapter, has called for the expansion of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to accommodate all Nigerians, because of its numerous benefits.

Ndukwe said that the expansion of the scheme to include all Nigerians would ensure quality and affordable healthcare delivery for the entire populace.

NHIS is the provision of the social health insurance in Nigeria, where healthcare services of contributors are paid from the common pool of funds, contributed by the participants of the scheme.

The amount/funds are pooled, allowing the Health Maintenance (HMOs) to pay for those needing medical attention.

Ndukwe said:“The benefits that will come out of NHIS cannot be overemphasised.

“It was introduced in 2005 to ensure universal access to good healthcare services, by protecting families from financial barriers to health care, and ensuring availability of funds to the health sector for improved services.

“So, if government can do more in the area of expanding the scheme and also allowing  it to cover a lot of services, it will go a long way to empower, as well as ensure improved healthcare services to Nigerians.

“Also, the issue of paying out of pocket for healthcare services will be solved,” he said.

He said that at present, the  NHIS had not covered many Nigerians; only about a third of the civil servants generally, had been able to access the scheme.

“So, the government needs to do more, to get most of the populace into the NHIS, because it is very difficult to pay out of pocket,’’ he said.

According to him, paying out of pocket is naturally a major challenge to patients, relatives and care givers, and this affects good health care.

Ndukwe called on governments to help alleviate the challenges of an average Nigerian  patient by extending the NHIS to all the citizens, rather than the civil servants alone. 

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