Expanding the Delta State contributory health insurance scheme to achieve 70 percent universal health coverage by 2023 through improved financing mechanisms was brought to the front-burner yesterday.
The one-day seminar organized by the State Contributory Health Commission (DSCHC) featured the Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Prof Sylvester Monye; the Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Dr Kingsley Emu and the Chairman, DSCHC Governing Board, Dr Isaac Akpoveta, among other panelists.
Unanimous in their postulations, the panellists decided that engagement of the private sector, plugging financial loopholes, winning the confidence of enrollees through improved healthcare service delivery, and interface with traditional rulers and religious leaders were prerequisites to expand the scheme.
As the Director-General of the Commission, Dr. Ben Nkechika, explained in his presentations, Delta State currently has the biggest scheme with over 900, 000 enrollees; representing about 20 percent of the entire state population using the national population estimates.
Dr. Nkechika noted that an initiative, ‘’the Indigent Support Programme’’ has been designed to boost the pool of funds to support the poor, adding that they are about 478 accredited facilities grouped into several categories across the state with an integrated digital platform.
Remarking, Dr Kingsley Emu posited that the drive of the state government was to establish at least one functional primary healthcare centre in each of the 270 wards of the state as bedrock to achieving universal health coverage, stressing that the consequences of not doing so was dire when compared to its financial implications.
Meanwhile, Prof Sylvester Monye, emphasized credibility in the management of funds as an integral component for the achievement of a universal health coverage, noting that health insurance should not be optional but compulsory for all. Corroborating earlier speakers,
Dr. Akpoveta noted that the state government had demonstrated the needed political will to achieving universal health coverage and has laid a solid foundation, even as he hoped that the contributory heath scheme will be scaled up from 20 percent to 70 percent by 2023.
Likewise, Chairman of the Delta State House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Health, Hon Austin Uroye, underscored the importance of a mandatory health insurance scheme and its advantages, even as he called for a robust partnership between the public and private sectors for improved healthcare service delivery.
For a health specialist of the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Dr. Anslem Audu, he observed that there was need for governments at all levels to come up with a legislation that will ensure compulsory health insurance by all to achieve universal health coverage.
The virtual and physical interactive session also featured contributions from the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Health Monitoring, Dr Mike Nwoko; Public Health Physician, Dr Ann Ojimba; Country Director, PharmAccess Foundation, Dr Njide Ndili among others.