By Chioma Obinna
As the crisis in the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, continues, National Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Pharm. Albert Alkali says the mess in the Scheme was the failure of the organization to play their regulatory roles.
According to him, NHIS managers over the years failed in their regulatory role to ensure that the Health Management Organisations, HMOs, did the right thing based on what was in the guideline.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos to announce the ACPN 36th Annual Conference which began weekend in Jos, Alkali also called for the expulsion of global capitation method of payment alleging that it was one of the factors that introduced corruption into the scheme.
Reacting to the call to scrap HMOs by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, Alkali said the inefficiency of NHIS managers created an avenue for the HMOs who are the fund managers to make grievous mistakes.
“It is always easy to say that the HMOs have been causing problems but just like the representative of Healthcare Management Organisation of Nigeria, HMCAN,said in any group you will always have the bad eggs but the regulators failed to uproot the bad eggs”
Pointing out that the function of HMOs was very necessary and relevant to the scheme; he explained that HMOs are the ones that canvass for people that will be in the scheme and also manage the funds by paying different professionals through both capitation and fee- for -service.
“Then the NHIS suppose to play a regulatory role to ensure that the HMOs do the right thing but over the years NHIS failed to do that. NHIS failed to uproot the bad eggs for it to serve as a deterrent to others.
When the operators connive with the HMOs they become friends by so doing, they cannot carry out their regulatory role anymore and that is what brought us to where we are now.”
“If you look at Nigeria generally, the slogan has always been public private partnership, because we know that government cannot do it alone. So in every sector, government has been saying that we want to partner with the private sector so that we can have efficient delivery of services and this is why the government is using the HMOs that are private organizations, so HMOs are very necessary to the scheme.”
Alkali who also alleged that the managers failed to follow the laid down act from the beginning said the issue of global capitation brought corruption into the system.
“If we have good officials that will regulate the HMOs, it will be better to remove those bad eggs than to start all over again. We want to move forward and Nigerians are tired of waiting. Rwanda is doing very well and we have gone to Rwanda to learn how to do health insurance.”
Explaining how global capitation has introduced corruption into the NHIS, he said; “You cannot bring money and give a particular service provider and expect him to give it to another service provider, he would want to retain everything. Those connivers have blocked fee- for- service delivery that should have been the ideal method. We should go back to the basis and straighten it, carry along all the Healthcare providers and stop the sentiment of one provider taking everything.”
Speaking, the ACPN National Treasurer, Pharm. Madehin Olanrewaju added that the fact that a regulator refused to carry out its responsibilities does not mean that the system is not working.
Calling for the review of the scheme, Olanrewaju said pharmacists have been short-changed with the global capitation because HMOs refused to take up their responsibility of ensuring fee- for -service, to health care providers like the pharmacists, the laboratory scientists, instead they decided to go with the global capitation which has brought enormous courruption into the system.
On the annual Conference with the theme: “Community Pharmacists: Role in Nation Building, Past, Present and Future”, the duo said the event which would be declared open by the Governor of Plateau State, will be looking at Universal Health Coverage, increase access to pharmaceutical services through satellite pharmacy concept, prescription drug abuse among others.
The Conference holding 2nd through 7th of July 2017 will also create awareness on the increase incidences of drug abuse among youths. According to him, there would be a walk against drug abuse that will be lead by the wife of the Plateau State Governor, Mrs. Regina Lalong.