Dr. Betta Edu
NHIA: We must Make Health Insurance Mandatory for all Nigerians – Beta Edu

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, has said the Federal Government needs to implement the mandatory aspect of the health insurance laws in the country to achieve the goal of inclusion for the downtrodden.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Operational Guidelines, 2023 in Abuja, the Minister said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda in the health sector cannot succeed without adequate health insurance coverage.

She added that health insurance is also key in the eradication of extreme poverty which is one of the responsibilities of her Ministry.

“We need health insurance to achieve universal health coverage. Out-of-pocket expenditure on health is worsening the poverty situation in the country.

“We have to make health insurance scheme mandatory. We can’t keep deceiving ourselves. We will provide funds to the downtrodden to get health insurance,” she said.

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She commended the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, who officially unveiled the document containing the new Operational Guidelines, for the reforms he is championing in the health sector.

She also described him as a magnet for donor funds and foreign grants, adding that the government will be relying on him for some of the resources needed to fund quality healthcare for vulnerable people in Nigeria.

Dr Edu also commended the Director-General of the NHIA, Professor Mohammed Nasir Sambo, for the robust operational guidelines, saying she has noted the brilliant innovations and ideas he has brought on board for the purpose of expanding health insurance coverage in Nigeria.

Health Digest recalls that the NHIA Act was signed by ex-President Muhammadu Buhari on May 19, 2022 to replace the now defunct National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). There was therefore the need to update Operational Guidelines 2012 for the purpose of meeting up with contemporary reality.

The NHIA Act 2022 makes health insurance mandatory in Nigeria. It also recognises the decentralised state of health insurance in Nigeria, provides for the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF) and empowers the NHIA to promote, regulate and integrate health insurance schemes in the country.