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April 20, 2024
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UNICEF calls for unified action on universal health coverage challenges

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By Reporters

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged stakeholders to intensify efforts in tackling the systemic challenges hindering the achievement of universal health coverage.

Dr Ijeoma Agbo, UNICEF Health Specialist, made this plea during a two-day media dialogue held in Ibadan.

The event, themed “Changing the Narrative on Child Mortality through Health Insurance,” was organised by UNICEF in partnership with the Oyo State Health Insurance Scheme (OYSHIA).

Agbo, addressing the gathering on “Access to Health Insurance as a Way to Achieve Universal Health Coverage for all in Nigeria,” emphasised the financial protection health insurance provides by alleviating the burden of out-of-pocket expenses for individuals and families.

Highlighting the role of health insurance in ensuring equitable distribution of healthcare resources, Agbo stressed its importance in guaranteeing quality healthcare services for all, regardless of socio-economic status or geographic location.

She proposed that state governments allocate a portion of their consolidated revenue to health insurance schemes to cover premiums for the economically disadvantaged.

Agbo advocated for increased investment in primary healthcare systems and the inclusion of essential health services in benefit packages to make healthcare more accessible and affordable to all.

She underscored that health insurance broadens access to a comprehensive range of healthcare services, from preventive to rehabilitative, leading to early detection and treatment of illnesses.

Agbo called on government agencies, healthcare providers, civil society organisations, the private sector, communities, and the media to work together to achieve universal healthcare.

She identified inadequate funding, limited awareness about health insurance, infrastructural gaps in healthcare, among other challenges, as impediments to the success of health insurance initiatives.

Blessing Ejiofor, UNICEF Communication Officer, emphasised the crucial role of health insurance in ensuring timely healthcare for children, urging journalists to advocate actively through their platforms to bridge the gaps in health insurance coverage for vulnerable populations.

Dr Olusola Akande, Executive Secretary of OYSHIA, reiterated the state government’s commitment to enrolling all residents in the health insurance scheme.

He noted that health insurance was the most effective means to reach the vulnerable and urged residents to take advantage of the affordable healthcare insurance provided by the state.

Akande disclosed that the state government had allocated over N1 billion to the scheme.

According to him, the premium package for the health insurance is N13,500 and that is what the rich, poor, including the vulnerable pay annually to enjoy the health service package.

Akande, while noting that health insurance scheme is mandatory, said the state government is enforcing its compliance.

“What we are pursuing is to get as many people as possible on the health insurance and leaving no one behind, including the poor, the rich, the rural and urban dwellers. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Victor Adeoti/Tayo Ikujuni

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