The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the quest to attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria has meet with major stakeholders, donor agencies, and implementing partners to revitalize their partnerships and awaken capacity and resources towards accelerating attainment of UHC across the country.

The Executive Secretary NHIS, Prof. Nasir Sambo while speaking in Abuja at the strategic stakeholders` engagement with development partners on Wednesday, said the implementation of health insurance for the benefit of Nigerians has no doubt been very slow thus acknowledge the important roles of donor agencies and implementing partners in accelerating the attainment of UHC”.

“The process of implementing health insurance for the benefit of Nigerians has no doubt been very slow. This can be seen in the low percentage of coverage of the population”.

“It is pertinent to acknowledge the important roles of Donor agencies and implementing partners in accelerating the attainment of Universal Health Coverage” he said.

The meeting which is first of its kind between NHIS and the donor partners was deliberately designed to concretely contextualize the types and levels of collaboration between both parties in a complimentary manner, particularly with emphasis on health financing, health insurance and social protection in the country.

However, Prof. Sambo recalled that in the agency’s quest to attain UHC, NHIS in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and state government commenced the implementation of Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) to expand health care coverage across the country.

Meanwhile the NHIS boss, while highlighting some challenges the agency is faced with making it impossible for the scheme to fully achieve its mandate of UHC without the involvement of development partners, urged stakeholders to redouble their commitment in assisting the attainment of UHC.

He also added: they study the matrix of implementing health insurance in Nigeria with a view of intervening in areas including but not limited to information and communications technology (ICT), monitoring and evaluation (M&E), capacity building and human development, programme development and quality control”.

Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire represented by the Director Hospital Services (FMoH), Dr. Joseph Amedu acknowledged the enormous help that has come into the health sector expressed through capacity building for officials, as well as funding support for various initiatives designed to achieve productive and meaningful life for Nigerians.

Dr. Ehanire, while appreciating various inputs from donor and implementing partners, reiterated the Federal government commitment to “continue with efforts aimed at strengthening partnerships, as well as broadening stakeholder’s participation in various engagements, to improve the capacity of Nigerians to create socio-economic values and live in acceptable conditions of life”.

“This is being progressively achieved, as you continue to work with our people and institutions, to deploy your global expertise to deliver effective international standards of solutions to our development challenges” he added.

Furthermore, he charged stakeholders to maintain a clear and consistent focus on national health priorities. “Universal Health Coverage deserves special mention here, as it remains the only panacea that can guarantee our people’s aspiration to enjoy quality, affordable and available healthcare without financial inhibitions”.

“As you are all aware, achieving UHC is one of the targets the nations of the world set when adopting the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. UHC is therefore a global (WHO) objective, to which Nigeria subscribes with great commitment” he said.

“With NHIS as Nigeria’s main hub for the attainment of UHC, it becomes imperative to mobilize all available support for the scheme in a coordinated manner that will deliver the expected outcomes in the right measure and quality”.

“I therefore urge you to use this opportunity to develop the relevant framework, parameters and a sustainable coordination mechanism that will ensure that we get value for every effort to position NHIS properly for the attainment of UHC in Nigeria”. He added.

Wife of Kebbi State Governor and Founder of Medic Aid Cancer Foundation, H.E. Dr. Zainab Bagudu in her address, identified poor funding gap as one of the major challenge towarda the attainment of UHC especially in the world of cancer as access to care and treatment is very expensive.

She noted that if population coverage, service coverage and financial risk protection and cost coverage is taken care of through the health insurance scheme, then UHC will be achieved in Nigeria.

However, Dr. Bagudu as a cancer advocate call on state government officials to provide funding in the health sector towards the better health status of their people.