The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Ms. Yewande Sadiku, has said about four per cent of 182 million Nigerians have formal health insurance.
This indicates that only 7.28 million Nigerians are registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme, leaving 174.92 million without health cover.
According to her, majority of the people with health insurance in the country are workers in the public sector.
She said this was part of the findings of the commission on health care investment while speaking at a summit in Abuja, which was held in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and GEMS3.
The summit was organized to explore ways to attract health care investments into the country.
The NIPC boss added that the research findings by the commission showed that Nigerians would rather seek medical care in India, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and South Africa than stay in Nigeria for treatment.
The country, she lamented, was losing $1bn annually to foreign medical trips.
She described the huge funds Nigerians spent abroad on health care as ‘invisible import’ because it was not captured in the country’s regular trade figures.
According to her, the lack of health care infrastructure has made the country the third preferred destination in Africa for health care investments.
The NIPC survey, Sadiku said, showed that “Nigeria spends just two per cent of its Gross Domestic Product on health care. However, it has the high-operating costs and the lowest quality scores for such investment compared to Egypt, Tunisia, South Africa and Kenya. Nigerians are ranked the ninth largest contributor by foreign patient volume in the United Kingdom.
The International Finance Corporation estimated that from $10bn to $15bn would be required as infrastructure investment in Nigeria’s health care sector.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Prioritizing investment promotion in Nigeria’s health care sector’, the NIPC CEO expressed the commission’s commitment to supporting investors to put in funds in the health sector.
Sadiku urged participants to identify and proffer workable solutions to the issues within the health sector in order not to only attract new investors, but also encourage the growth of existing businesses, and reduce Nigeria’s health import dependency.
To attract investors, participants at the summit suggested that similar to the pension scheme, health care insurance should be made mandatory for Nigerians.
They also identified the overlapping role of the Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme as both regulator and provider as a bottleneck because “the institution is competing with private Health Maintenance Organizations and controlling money that will help them to grow”.
Stakeholders also identified barriers hindering investment in the health care sector, saying that “health care is a long-term investment, which bankers do not understand, and therefore are reluctant to support”.
The Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, recently said that there was no record of the real number of people covered by the scheme in Nigeria.
As such, he said the agency would embark on biometric verification of the actual enrolees in the scheme in order to correct the lapses that had been identified in the implementation of the NHIS.
He said that he had already set up an enforcement department to ensure that the scheme would work for the benefit of Nigerians.
Yusuf said that the NHIS was the only effective means to achieve universal health coverage in Nigeria, where the rich and the poor would get health care without suffering any financial burden.
Source: Punch Newspaper