By Chioma Obinna
Healthcare providersand stakeholders in the Information Technology (ICT) sector have described Mobile Health Insurance as a ‘game changer’ in the country’s quest to achieve universal health coverage. They expressed optimism that the National Mobile Health Insurance would improve access to quality health care among Nigerians and increase the number of enrolees under the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.
Speaking at the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Healthcare Providers’ Association of Nigeria, HCPAN, with the theme: “Health Insurance as a Vehicle for Providing Qualitative Healthcare in Nigeria”, former Chairman, Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, Mr. Ernest Ndukwe said fusion of technology and healthcare does not only represent the transformational power of modern medicine, but represents the future of universal access and sound administrative management of health care anywhere in the world.
Ndukwe, who was the chairman of the occasion, said with mobile health insurance, about 140 million mobile phone owners would be captured under the health insurance scheme.
Regretting that Nigeria has tried providing health insurance by face to face registration of people that captured less than 5 percent of the population, he said, there is need to use the mobile phones to ensure that all Nigerians are covered.
Expressing optimism, he said: “You will be surprised what is going on in the mobile arena. Nigerians have embraced mobile technology wholeheartedly; they are buying all kinds of things over the mobile phone. When people started talking about online shopping, people didn’t believe that it was possible to shop online but today, all the online businesses are providing fantastic services over the mobile platform.
“When you want to be healthy, you are looking for whatever way is possible to make sure you are able to buy affordable health because what mobile health insurance offers is affordable health which means you can be contributing a small amount of money every day or monthly in order to give you insurance for that rainy day when yourself or family member become sick and there is no money, you fall back on your mobile or health insurance to be able to obtain health care.”
National President of HCPAN, Dr. Umar Sanda said with the introduction of mobile health insurance more Nigerians would be captured. He said if telecommunication is used as the vehicle to spread health insurance to majority of Nigerians that are not in the formal sector, at least 40 to 60 percent of Nigerians would be covered.
“Only 4 to 5 percent are covered nationwide so we are not moving at all and this is my appeal to NHIS that we are in change Mantra and it is now time to move.
He identified poor awareness on health insurance among Nigerians adding that if the NHIS act can be changed from ‘May’ to ‘Shall’, definitely, health insurance coverage would become compulsory for every Nigerian.
“The game changer in Health insurance industry right now is mobile health insurance scheme. That is the only thing that can jump the figure higher because people even in villages uses GSM, all we need to do is just like buying data, you buy health insurance scheme like data. If we can organise it properly, majority of Nigerians will be covered.”