Pressure Mounts In Niger Over Health Insurance Bill

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Governor Sani Bello of Niger State
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
The absence of an enabling legislation to back up the establishment of a health insurance scheme to support public healhcare delivery system in Niger State is standing between the state and a whopping N1.5 billion aid package to the state.
The World Bank and in conjunction with other global players in health care delivery issues is sponsoring a basket fund of N1.5 billion aid package to states who have a public health insurance scheme for it’s citizens.
The public health contributory scheme attracts a bilateral joint funding from interested states and the World Bank where the two provide counterpart funds of N1.5 billion each in support of health care delivery for citizens in a state.
In Niger state, mechanism to have a public health contributory system has only got started as the bill for the enactment of the legislation is stalled at the State’s House of Assembly over eight months after it was introduced at plenary.
Findings by our correspondent confirmed that though the executive bill on the establishment of the health insurance scheme is dear to the state government, the bill on it which has reached it’s second reading at the floor of the House is yet to bearth.
The Global Promoters for Community Initiatives/Primary Health Care State Advocacy Team, a civil society organization, (CSO) which now goes by a new identity as Primary Health Care State Advocacy Team, (PHeCSAT) has been up in struggle for the establishment of an enabling legislation in the state to push through the actualization of a health insurance scheme also known as the health contributory scheme.
The Niger state Coordinator of the PHeCSAT, Kalajaye Olasukanmi confirmed to our correspondent that agitations by a spectrum of the citizens over the need to introduce health insurance scheme in the state was on the increase.
The state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello according to sources from within government circles, is interested in pushing for the passage of the bill now before the house of Assembly.
The bill has passed it’s second reading and it has been sent to the House committee on health for further thrashings.
But agitations by stakeholders and citizens to have a health insurance cover have been overwhelming according to Olasukanmi.
He explained during a stakeholders’ meeting of the PHeCSAT at the weekend that having an insurance scheme in the state would be a huge advantage to both citizens and the state.
The state stands to draw a counterpart contribution from the World Bank and other global partners such as the Global Financing Facility, (GFF) and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, (BHCPF) to the tune of N1.5 billion with the state making a similar contribution to the common basket.
The PHeCSAT is making advocacies in sensitising citizens in the state on the contributory health insurance scheme especially on the benefits to citizens and the state by networking with relevant bodies and individuals for the speedy passage of the health insurance scheme bill that is before the state legislature.
The CSO is also making advocacy on proper funding of primary healthcare centres in the state by the state government through sufficient funds allocations.

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