Expert Advocates 'Sin Tax' to Fund Health Insurance and Achieve Universal Health Coverage
introduction of a 'sin tax' to finance health insurance and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.

Experts State Factors Hampering Universal Health Coverage

Government at all levels have been charged to address the twin evils of poverty and unemployment for the seamless implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

A Senior Manager st the National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA) Dr Jide Oloyede while reviewing the activities of the Agency during a town hall meeting in Ado-Ekiti attributed what he called poor implementation of the NHI as factor responsible for the inability of the general public to make headway in achieving universal health coverage.

At the event organised by the Centre for Social Justice, in partnership with Palladium and United States of America for International Development (USAID), Dr Oloyede argued that the menace was also responsible for the decline in the life expectancy of Nigerians.

The programme attended by market women, artisan, members of the Civil Society Organisations, religious groups, civil servants, youths as well as transport unions members was targeted at the policy brief on full implementation of NHI Law with the objective of providing policy recommendations to increase health insurance care coverage in Ekiti State.

Dr Oloyede maintained that poverty and unemployment is the main problem confronting the implications of the National Health Insurance Law.

The medical expert noted that for the scheme to be mandatory for all Nigerians there is need for the government to tackle the menace of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country.

He urged people of the State to cue into the NHIS, noted that the Federal Government through the agency has provided more opportunities for the the populace.

In his remarks the Director of Planning and Research Ekiti State Health Insurance Scheme, (EKSHIS) Mr Ogunyemi Oyeyemi, explained that for the scheme to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) there is need for the government to redouble its efforts and focus more attention on the health sector.

He said the NHIS could only be made compulsory and achieve its purpose for the masses, governments at all levels should increase its annual budget to the health sector and release more fund to the NISH in line with the 1999, NHIS decree 35 as signed into law.

The EKSHIS Director of Planning and Research, said though the cankerworms of poverty and joblessness are issues to be considered before holistic implementation of the NHIS law, but hinted that government has special programmes that capture poor Nigerians.

He disclosed that the government through its health insurance scheme called “ULERAWA” have registered about 22,913 beneficiaries spread across 175 health facilities across the 16 local government in the State.

“The authority is trying to create avenues to ensure that many poor and vulnerable people are captured, knowing that many people are incapacitated financially , government is introducing equity plan covering elderly, physically challenged, children, pregnant women , and poor Nigerians”, he said.