By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
The Health & Managed Care Association of Nigeria, HMCAN, has threatened to challenge the reinstatement of Professor Usman Yusuf as the Executive Director of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.
Chairman of the Association that is the umbrella body for Health Maintenance Organisations, HMOs, in Nigeria, Dr. Tunde Ladele, disclosed this yesterday during a press briefing, saying Yusuf’s appointment caused distortions in the operations of the Agency.
Ladele recalled that HMCAN had earlier gone to court to challenge distortions and irregularities in its operations with the NHIS following appointment of the Executive Secretary, among other issues.
“We will contest the recall in court. There is a case already on. The reason we went to court was the distortion of the process and then the libelous statements and the manner of appointment.
According to Ladele: “News of the lifting of the suspension of Dr. Usman Yusuf as the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme reached the Association by way of the social media and print and electronic news organisations on Tuesday 6th February, 2018.
“Yusuf was suspended in July 2017 by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole for three months to allow for an administrative, investigative committee to look into the various allegations, including those of monumental fraud, gross abuse of office and nepotism inimical to the NHIS. Subsequently, the Minister of Health extended the suspension of the Executive Secretary indefinitely.”
Further, he said: “It was reported that the Ministerial committee set up by the Minister of Health had found that the sum of N919 million had been dubiously given to consultants for staff training and recommended that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, probe the Agency for diversion of funds and contravention of the Procurement Act.
“HMCAN notes the assurances of government that investigations of allegations are ongoing. Whilst noting the gravity of the allegations, HMCAN is mindful of the dictum that an accused person is innocent till proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“We advise that in the spirit of transparency, accountability and the stance of government on anti-corruption, the report and investigation should not be swept under the carpet. Doing this will erode public confidence and cast doubt on the sincerity of government.
According to Ladele: “In the last year during his tenure, there have been disruptions and nothing has been done in terms of adding more lives to the Scheme, however, since he was suspended, we have gradually normalised activities.
“In his absence the providers have been taken care of and everything had been going seamlessly.
“We believe in the Nigerian project and we on our part will continue to invest our best efforts in ensuring the highest quality of care at the most equitable cost for millions of our enrollees nationwide. Ultimately this is the mandate of our members and indeed of the NHIS.”
HCPAN, NMA react
In his own reaction, the Deputy National President of the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, HCPAN, Dr. Adeyeye Arigbabuwo, was none committal.
“Our position is that Nigeria is dynamic. And Nigeria is a controversial country. So controversy continues until we get to our destination.”
Asked if the reinstatement was healthy for the nation’s health sector he said: “I would not say yes or no but what I want to let you know is that as I am talking to you now, I am not sure of my health, and you are not sure of your health. Only God is sure of our health. So it is difficult for me to judge anybody.”
President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Professor Mike Ogirima on his own part said it was essential to have a functional and mandatory health insurance system.
“We are professionals and all we are after is a mandatory National Health Insurance Scheme, that can give us Universal Health Coverage. “ We don’t care whoever is there, as long as we can get these two things so that Nigerians can enjoy the benefit of the Scheme. “We need a mandatory NHIS not this one that is voluntary that is causing controversial.”