By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS— TRADE Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, yesterday claimed that billions of naira meant for the running of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, had been trapped in the Treasury Single Account, TSA.
TUC in a statement by its President, Mr. Bobboi Bala Kaigama, expressed concern that if the fund was not paid back into the coffers of the NHIS, the scheme would collapse.
It urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct that the fund so removed be returned to the scheme.
The union said: “The withdrawal of humongous sums of money in the National Health Insurance Scheme fund and its subsequent lodgement into the TSA has gravely affected the operations and financial capability of the scheme in terms of growing the pooled fund.
‘’This trend if not reversed urgently will adversely affect the future activities and operations of the Scheme.”
According to TUC, the NHIS is not a revenue generating agency since its funds come from the pool of workers’ contributions.
It insisted that the NHIS was established by the National Assembly Act CAP.42 LFN 2004 to provide health services to workers at affordable cost, while treating tertiary related diseases, emergency health situations, and eliminating huge out-of-pocket expenses.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to categorically state that NHIS by the Act that established it has never been a revenue generating agency for the government.
‘’The contributions to the NHIS coffers are funds pooled majorly from monthly salaries of dedicated workers, money from international donors and voluntary contributions from private individuals,” it stated.
The union contended that the NHIS was set up to cater for the healthcare of its contributing enrollees whose funds were the breathing life of the scheme and, by extension, provide universal healthcare coverage for all Nigerians.
The TUC expressed the hope that the Federal Government would stop regarding the NHIS as a revenue generating agency and allow the scheme to use the funds at its disposal to discharge its statutory function of providing health to Nigerian workers in particular and the citizens in general.
“If the Federal Government insists that its wrongly held position on the matter will not change, trade unions may be left with no other option than to seek redress in the law court in order to defend the overall interest of the workers who are the major contributors to the scheme,’’ the union stated.