UNICEF FLood FG kano state health crisis WASH Flooding Children Diseases JPV Vaccinate Bauchi staff
The UNICEF staff association has donated medical equipment to a PHC in kano.

Child Mortality: UNICEF Seeks Adoption of Health Insurance to Tackle Menace 

The United Nations Children’s Fund in collaboration with the Oyo State Government has called for the adoption of the health insurance scheme to tackle child mortality in the country.

The call was made during a media workshop on Wednesday, in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The workshop was titled, ‘Changing the narrative on child mortality through health insurance.’

Speaking on ‘Access to health insurance: A gateway to achieve Universal Health Coverage for all in Nigeria,’ a health specialist with UNICEF, Dr Ijeoma Agbo, stated that the percentage of the population covered by health insurance had been steadily increasing over the years.

Agbo, however, disclosed that significant gaps still existed with a substantial portion of the population, especially the vulnerable, remaining uninsured.

She said, “Universal Health Coverage is achieved when all people have access to high-quality essential services they need without facing financial hardship, particularly at the time of service delivery.

“Several states in Nigeria have introduced their health insurance schemes to complement the NHIS and extend coverage to residents. These state-level schemes vary in scope, coverage, and implementation effectiveness and impact in terms of overall progress towards UHC.”

Agbo emphasised that to accelerate progress towards UHC in Nigeria, concerted efforts must be geared towards addressing systemic challenges as well as strengthening health systems.

“Achieving UHC requires a multi-sectoral and collaborative approach involving government agencies, healthcare providers, donor agencies, civil society organisations, the private sector, communities, and the media,” she said.

She added that UNICEF was committed to working with all stakeholders to overcome barriers, leverage resources, and ensure that all Nigerians have access to the healthcare services they need without financial hardship.

The Executive Secretary, Oyo State Health Insurance Agency, Dr Olusola Akande, who gave a presentation on ‘Social Health Insurance Scheme: The Situation in Nigeria’, revealed that no fewer than 500,000 individuals would be insured in the state before the end of 2024.

According to Akande, Nigerians must embrace UHC wholeheartedly.

Akande who disclosed that the state government had committed more than N1bn to the scheme in the state, said the premium package for the health insurance was N13,500 annually for anyone to enjoy the health service package.

“In Oyo State today, we are enrolling everybody. Every benefit package has a limit. We are enrolling people living with disabilities. Also, we will soon be enrolling people on the street. The vulnerable and the poor must benefit,” she added.

On her part, the Communication Officer, UNICEF, Blessing Ejiofor, stated that access to health insurance plays an important role in ensuring that children receive the timely healthcare services they need to survive, thrive, and fulfill their potential in life.

Ejiofor enjoined participating journalists to become active advocates by using their various platforms to draw the attention of stakeholders to existing gaps in health insurance coverage for vulnerable populations.

In a remark, Director of Marketing and Quality Assurance, Mr. Dauda Stephen, disclosed that the agency was spending a lot on advocacy to educate the people on the need to embrace health insurance.Health Specialist of UNICEF, Olufemi Adeyemi, in his opening remark, said the biggest impediment to healthcare delivery today was finance.

In 2022, 4.9 million children under five years of age died. This translates to 13,400 children under the age of 5 dying every day in 2022, according to UNICEF data.