…Covers Insurance Fee of 10,000 Indigenes, Civil Servant
By Chioma Ndife
The Anambra State Government has officially launched the Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) that will ensure that all indigenes and residents of the state have access to affordable health services.
Governor Willie Obiano during the launch on Friday, September 14, at Hollywood Event Centre in Awka, disclosed that the state government had made payment that would cover the health insurance fees of about 10,000 Anambra indigent people to promote the well-being of all individuals, irrespective of occupation.
According to the state governor, 10,000 people across various communities in the state would benefit from the paid ASHIA to ensure inclusiveness, while a further 10 per cent counterpart funding would be available for the coverage of civil servants and their families.
'The scheme marks an end to avoidable suffering, disability and death in Anambra State. A monthly payment of N1000 covering preventive, curative, rehabilitative medical and surgical services is what is required.
'This can only be achieved when resources are pooled and used for strategic purchasing of health care services in a manner that ensures financial risk protection for all, especially the vulnerable population who are suffering due to high cost health care,' he said.
Obiano further urged different communities, professional associations, and organised unions to adopt such vulnerable persons who ordinarily could not afford to pay the premium of N12, 000 annually for the scheme, as well as to mobilize members to purchase group health insurance packages.
He also urged the private sector to key into the scheme for the benefit of their employees, while expressing optimism that within the shortest possible time, the scheme would make its mark in health care delivery in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, said the health insurance scheme was the cheapest way of getting quality health care services. He commended the state government for launching the scheme, describing it as a step in the right direction and called on other states of the federation to emulate the state by keying into the scheme as it was the only way to achieve universal health coverage.
Also speaking, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike, explained the various efforts of the state government to boost primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare in the state. He said that the state government had spent over 300 million in the last three years to offset the bills of Anambrians who could not pay their hospital bills and described the initiative as a welcome development.
For his part, the Executive Secretary of ASHIA, Dr. Simeon Onyemaechi, revealed that the scheme was geared towards making Anambra a healthy state. He noted that NdiAnambra and residents of the state would benefit and access health care services at affordable cost. He beckoned on groups and wealthy individuals to embrace the scheme by paying the premium of lowly placed individuals in the state.
In a remark, the chairman, governing council, ASHIA, Prof. Ilochi Okafor, averred that the scheme was in tandem with the assurances of the state governor to provide affordable, equitable, accessible, effective and quality medical treatment available for all residents of the state.
Ilochi lauded the initiative and promised that the council would work harmoniously and with a sense of purpose to lift the burden of out-of-pocket health expenditure of the people.
The House Committee Chairman on Health, Anambra State House of Assembly, Dr. Nnamdi Okafor, maintained that the health of the people remained sacrosanct in any sane society, arguing that a healthy society was a productive one.
Okafor, who extolled Willie Obiano for his audacious contributions to the health sector in the state, said that the health insurance scheme would help the economy of the state, as well as contribute to her Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He argued that life without health was worthless, while calling on the people of the state to embrace the scheme with both hands.
He further appealed to the state governor to assent to the bill on the prohibition of hawking and false drug advertisement in the state, highlighting the benefits of the bill.
Earlier, the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, commended the state governor, urging other Southeast governors to borrow a leaf from the state, even as he said that the people of the state were known for hard work and spirit of enterprise.