By Franca Ofili
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) on Tuesday in Abuja said it has introduced a programme called “drug registered hitchhiking medicine supply”.
Prof. Mohammed Sambo, Director-General of NHIA, while briefing newsmen said the programme was to ensure the availability of drugs in the market and make them less expensive.
He said the National Health Bill which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari was a critical element of the nation’s development.
President Buhari had on May 21 signed the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 into law, with the new legislation repealing the National Health Insurance Scheme Act 2004.
The President had during the signing said the new law makes provisions for the setting up of a trust fund.
The trust fund is to ensure the coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premium as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission.
Sambo said the drug registered hitchhiking medicine supply condition will ensure the availability of drugs in the market.
“It will also ensure that all the drugs are permitted in health insurance company system to bring down the cost of drugs,’’ he said.
Sambo said the introduction of the branded drugs under the NHIA drug supply initiative would address the perception that drugs prescribed for enrollees by health care providers are cheap, ineffective drugs.
He said that the NHIA Act brought renewed prospects for the delivery of effective health insurance in Nigeria, fundamentally resetting the ecosystem.
According to him, with the Act, Nigerian health insurance has become mandatory.
He said the Act empowered the authority to see to it that all Nigerians and legal residents have health insurance.
“This is a complete departure from the previous law that made health insurance optional.
“The authority will co-exist with state systems and other stakeholders.
“The law provides that NHIA will promote, regulate and integrate through the ecosystem.
“It also provided for the establishment of vulnerable Group Fund and outlines sources of funding for it,’’ Sambo said.
According to him, the law imposes a telecoms tax as a source of funding.
“Currently, the most important work before us is the strategic implementation of the NHIA Act for the benefit of Nigerians,’’ he said.
The D-G said that the recent visits of a high-level mission from the World Health Organsation (WHO) were as a result of the Act.
He said a team of health-financing experts came and assessed the country’s preparedness.
“At the end they were satisfied and pledged their support in relevant areas.
“The team will help the country in the area of capacity-building and technology,’’ the NHIA director-general said.
Sambo also said the NHIA was discussing with relevant authorities in finance to enable the authority achieve its objectives.
He disclosed that the authority was also doing advocacy so that people would understand the implications and benefits of health insurance.
Sambo then urged the media to assist with proper education and advocacy on health insurance.