Prof. Usman Yusuf, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), says there is no record of the real number of people covered by the scheme in Nigeria.
Yusuf made the assertion on Saturday in Uyo at a one-day legislative retreat on immunisation, health financing and the National Health Act organised for House of Representatives Committees on Health Services.
The executive secretary said that he had decided to carry out biometric verification of the actual enrollees in the scheme in view of the lapses noticed in its implementation.
He said that he had already set up an enforcement department to ensure that the scheme work for the benefit of Nigerians.
“NHIS has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of our people. We have agreed that it will not be business as usual.
“NHIS is the central bank of healthcare in Nigeria,” Yusuf said, but expressed regrets that management of the scheme since its inception in 2005 had made the scheme look elitist.
Yusuf said that NHIS was the only effective means to achieve universal health coverage in Nigeria, where the rich and the poor get healthcare without suffering financial burden.
He said he had the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari to cleanse the scheme of endemic corruption, impunity, inefficiency and political patronage.
the executive secretary decried the fact that scheme was working more for the interest of the Health Management Organisations (HMOs) rather than the enrollees.
“NHIS is subsidy to HMOs. We paid the HMOs three months ahead. I paid in the last quarter eight billion naira.
“They keep inflating the number of enrollees that they have. We will conduct biometric verification of enrollees,” Yusuf said.
He urged the elected representatives of the people to get involved in NHIS to deliver healthcare to their various constituents.
Yusuf pleaded with the state governments to key into the scheme and take healthcare to the rural populace.
The retreat was sponsored by International Vaccine Access Centre, Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.
Other co-sponsors were Direct Consulting and Logistics and ONE campaign, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning and Community Health Research Initiative.
The other stakeholders and sponsors, included Preston Healthcare Consulting, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NHIS and Federal Ministry of Health.