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The Special Adviser on Health to Governor of Anambra State and Executive Secretary, Anambra State Health Insurance Agency, Dr Simeon Onyemechi has called for self-reliant and sustainable state healthcare financing for all citizens.

According to him, over the years, healthcare has been typically what he termed “cash and carry”, where individuals pay out-of-pocket for services when they need it. Onyemechi spoke last week while delivering a lecture at the launch of Borno State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency in Maiduguri.

Speaking on the topic: “Ensuring Healthy Citizens Through Sustainable Health Care Financing In Borno (a self-reliant and sustainable state healthcare financing for all citizens), Onyemaechi noted that of the six building blocks of the healthcare system; healthcare financing was the most critical as every other part revolves around it.

According to him, “Finance is required to hire a human resource for health; to procure essentials medicines and vaccines; and to develop, print and disseminate health information which is all geared towards healthcare service delivery.”

He further noted with sadness that this huge out-of-pocket health expenditure is a deterrent for the citizens to seek healthcare from skilled health personnel. His words, “They rather would do nothing, pray about their condition, or resort to self-medication and use of herbal concoctions both of which are harmful and potentially lethal.

The sequelae of this poor health-seeking behaviour include high burden of chronic preventable ailments, high crude mortality rate, high maternal and infant mortality rates among other poor morbidity and mortality indices currently existing here.” He said to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, is incumbent on us at this time, “to make health insurance mandatory for all Borno citizens.”

The health expert added, “Innovative financing like the adoption model which Anambra State health Insurance Agency has championed, is a way out.

The adoption model is simply a mechanism through which privileged and philanthropic members of the society are encouraged to pay a premium for the vulnerable and less privileged.

This way, these persons are brought into the pool, they enjoy the benefits package provided in the scheme, stimulating in them the willingness to pay for themselves even when the funding line ceases from their benefactors.”

On the Challenges of social health insurance and the way forward, Onyemaechi called for adequate funding of social health insurance schemes that must be prioritized to ensure sustainability.

All existing programmes must be funnelled into the scheme as an equity fund for vulnerable groups which include women and children typically.

Quality and stability of human resources, adherence to service level agreement as well as the sanctity of the agency’s fund.” He congratulated Governor Umara Zulum for “taking this bold initiative of launching BOSCHMA,” while charging every healthcare worker, civil servants and all stakeholders present to support BOSCHMA to take off and succeed, “because this will enable Borno citizens to have access to quality healthcare that is affordable with equity in focus.”

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