By Chioma Ndife
The Executive Secretary of Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA), Dr. Simon Onyemaechi, has called on Anambrarians among others residents in the state who are philanthropists to shun organizing medical outreach and rather use such funds to pay for lives in the scheme.
Dr. Onyemaechi who made the call recently while addressing journalists in his office at Awka, Anambra State Capital, noted that it was more economical for the big philanthropists in the state to buy lives for indigent people in their various communities for a period of one year.
He argued that rather than spending about 10 to 20 million Naira for an outreach which usually lasted for a period of one to two weeks, such should be used to obtain premium for over 1,750 persons whose medical expenses would be covered for a year. He disclosed that during most medical outreaches, medical assistance was mostly given to those who did not really need help.
In his words, 'I am using this opportunity to call on Ndi Anambra that are philanthropists to please extend their hand of charity towards paying health insurance for people. There are people in our communities who cannot afford this 12, 000 because they are vulnerable, they are indigent. Please redirect your milk of charity towards paying for people in your families, in your communities, if you can pay for ten people, you pay, that's 125,000. If you can pay 20, 50, 100, any number you can pay for, you pay. That money supplies us with their information, we will confirm the payment and we will come to the community where they are and to register them, they don't need to move. We do community registration once the number of lives is from 50 persons and above.
'This Lenten season it will be a good time to sow some of your charity money to paying for health insurance for people. You spend your money to organize medical outreaches, which is what most of our billionaires from Anambra do. They want to give to society, they genuinely want to do that, they call doctors from everywhere in the country, pay for people to come, they spend 10 million, 20 million to organize free medical outreach for two days, three days, whereas this money you can channel it into paying for lives in ASHIA. Imagine someone who spends 20 million Naira for outreach, you can spend that same amount of money to pay for health insurance for about 1700 people over a whole year. Nobody will call you again for health care, but you will spend that type of amount just for one week to do medical outreach. People who will come there might be people who are not sick. Why not stop these outreaches, channel such money into paying for lives of indigent people in various communities in Anambra State. That is our own Anambra Life Adoption Model. This is the most important charity you can do for anybody as a philanthropist,' he said.
He explained that ASHIA was established by the law of Anambra State to provide quality, affordable and equitably distributed health care to people who resided in Anambra State. He maintained that the scheme was established to ensure that people had health care without bearing the huge cost attached to most medical visits. He regretted that people who were yet to register with the agency still spent very exorbitant amount to pay for health care, noting that people did not take note of the huge amount which they spent while patronizing medicine vendors because they did not spend the money at once.
He said the risks involved with self-prescription and self-medication, had brought a lot complications and high incidence of kidney failure in to people.
He expressed conviction that ASHIA had come to stay, noting that the agency had registered over 30,000 lives within 3 months of starting operations and currently had over 260 hospitals, both private and public, across Anambra State which were accredited to provide services under ASHIA.