Determined to eliminate challenges associated with the supply and quality of drugs in the implementation of health insurance in Nigeria, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has inaugurated a Drug Supply Implementation Committee.

Performing the inauguration at the corporate head office of the organization in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, Professor Mohammed Nasir Sambo said the event is a follow up to the strategic stakeholders engagement with pharmaceutical manufacturers and companies, which to place in Abuja in October last year.

The highly fruitful engagement was part of the several platforms for the facilitation of the on-going reforms in the agency.

Prof. Sambo described the supply of drugs as not only central, but also critical to the success of any healthcare delivery system.

“It is for this reason that our reform agenda has mainstreamed the identification and resolution of drug-related gaps and challenges under the NHIS”, he said, reiterating that “the quality and supply of drugs are not only crucial to the achievement of the mandate of NHIS, but also have far-reaching implications on the status of any country’s health sector”.

He therefore charged the committee to pay close attention to factors that will engender availability, acceptability, accessibility, affordability and high quality of drugs, in relation to the needs of health-seeking enrollees of NHIS, as part of the ultimate objective of improving the quality of life of Nigerians.

To achieve this, Prof. Sambo highlighted the terms of reference of the committee, which include to produce guidelines for the implementation of branding of drugs and products under NHIS, developing a monitoring and evaluation framework, outline the process for the distribution of drugs, among others.

The expected outcomes of the work of this committee, besides production of NHIS- branded drugs, are adequate supply of drugs that will put an end to the out-of-stock syndrome in healthcare facilities, ensure high quality of drugs that will inspire the confidence of users and achievement of drug security in the system.

  Stakeholders at the event applauded the reform initiative of the Sambo administration in NHIS, describing it as high in quality and comprehensive in scope, with particular reference to the sacrificial and focused leadership provided by the Executive Secretary, not only for NHIS, but the entire Nigerian health insurance ecosystem.

  The stakeholders made references to the results of the reforms already manifest, which include the finalization of the reaccreditation of HMOs, the confidence- building reconciliation of debts owed Providers by the HMOs, as well as the restoration of industrial place and harmony that enables the Scheme to focus on its mandate with single-mindedness and fresh vigour.

Membership of the broad-based committee is drawn from critical stakeholders including the Federal Ministries of Health, Finance and Industry, Trade and Investment.

Others are the national Forum of Commissioners for Health, Forum of CEOs of State Social Health Insurance Agencies, Committee of CMDs/MDs of tertiary health institutions, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria, NAFDAC, NIPRD, HMOs, and HCPs.

Also represented on the committee are the Nigeria Customs Service, as well as staff of the Programmes, Planning as well as Standards and Quality Assurance Departments of NHIS.

Ayo Osinlu

Head, Media & Public Relations