By Tordue Salem, Abuja

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has proposed to spend the sum of N191.7 million on maternal and child health project which would cover 15, 184 lives in the country in 2021.

The Executive Secretary of NHIS, Muhammad Sambo, disclosed this Wednesday during the defence of the 2021 budget proposal before the House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services.

Sambo explained that the project which will be executed at a premium rate of N12,000 per life, per annum will benefit 410 lives in each of the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that N4.9 million will be allocated to each State for the project.

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He also disclosed that the sum of N129.2 million is proposed in the 2021 budget for a health project for the elderly, covering about 10, 235 lives across the country.

Speaking on the performance of the 2020 budget by the Agency, Sambo said “out of the N164 million appropriated, N72.47 million has been released but has not been adequately utilized following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The first release came in March and at that point, the COVID-19 pandemic had started and the second release came in July this year still during COVID-19 so NHIS has not been able to spend these resources but with the total lift on the lockdown, we have asked the responsible departments to make submissions to accelerate implementation. So within a couple of weeks, most of these monies that you saw appropriated will be put into action”.

Sambo said: “During COVID-19, there was a deduction of N300 million that was done by the office of the Accountant General, which we even complained to you and the Minister.

“We wrote a letter because we couldn’t see the reason why the constituency project money should be deducted. I think NHIS having paid into the constituency, we wrote a letter they raised the mandate to pay us back, the deduction was done across sectors which is said to be a loan and we’ve made a complaint to Accountant General office and we’re told it’s receiving attention”.

The NHIS Boss also called on the House of Representatives to approve the National Health Insurance Mandatory Bill already passed by the Senate to enable to the county achieve universal health coverage.

“Chairman let me say that the Senate has passed the National Health Insurance Mandatory Bill and it has been transmitted to the House and we are craving the indulgence of the House now to help us in ensuring concurrence quickly because without concurrence it will be very difficult for us to have total picture because we want to achieve universal health coverage.

“We recognized that National Assembly is not enrolled in Health Insurance so by the time we have this accelerated Health Insurance we will approach the National Assembly to come and join so that we can have a very large pool of funds”, he pleaded.

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