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Ex-NIPSS director calls for review of NHIS

By Taye Obateru

Jos —  One-time Acting Director of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPPS, Kuru, Plateau State, Professor Ogoh Alubo, has called for a review of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, to cover the entire population rather than the about 10 per cent currently covered.

He said the scheme which currently covers employees who co-finance the premium with their employers should be made national through the payment of premium for every Nigerian by government or reverting to free medical services in public medical services.

He spoke last weekend while presenting the 41st Inaugural Lecture of the University of Jos entitled “In Sickness and in Health: Issues in the Sociology of Health in Nigeria.”

“At the moment, the fee regime and Health Insurance Scheme exclude the poor and thus making the impact of these initiatives marginal: available care is accessed more by those who have the money or are in powerful positions,”Alubo noted.

He said the various health initiatives of government had not had the desired impact because they have focused more on the treatment of ailments rather than addressing the sociological problems that cause them.

According to the sociologist, “health is a much cherished but often misunderstood concept. In health discourse in Nigeria, the primary concern is often about hospitals and drugs and seldom about the conditions which make drugs and hospitals necessary.

“There are hardly questions about the impact of this perspective on health problems. At issues is how medical care can solve problems whose root causes are political and economic. The common diseases in Nigeria are nutritional such as kwashiorkor and marasmus; parasitic like malaria and water borne such as cholera and guinea worm. How can cure to these conditions be achieved without attending to the root causes?”

Alubo called for a shift from the current imbalance in investment in favour of cure over care stressing that health was inseparable from the political economic conditions under which people live and transcended mere absence of disease.


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