Minister of Health, Dr Osasie Ehanire, on Tuesday launched the first phase of N13, 775 billion disbursement of Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), to states through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) gateway.
Ehanire who stated this at a news conference in Abuja, said NHIS would be disbursing N6.5 billion of the N13, 775 billion to 15 states including the FCT, who had met the criteria as at Feb. 15.
He said the first tranche of disbursement of the BHCPF would be given to the State Social Health Insurance Agencies (SSHIA) by the NHIS.
The minister explained that the funds would be administered through three gateways; namely NHIS, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).
He said other states that were eligible would be accommodated as the fund was meant for all Nigerians.
Ehanire said the event was a significant milestone in the development of Nigeria’s health sector, adding that the Universal Health Coverage was top priority on global agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals.
He recalled that the Federal Government in 2004, signed the National Health Act into Law in response to poor health outcomes.
He said following the important legislation, not less than one per cent of Federal Government’s consolidated revenue was earmarked to improve the health of Nigerians.
“ Regrettably this fund was not appropriated for the commencement of the implementation of the programme until the 2018 fiscal year.
“However with the needed political will, this government has commenced the release of funds for provision of much needed health services to all Nigerians, especially the vulnerable population.
“Indeed this commitment is strongly expressed by Mr President at his 2019 inaugural speech where he said; `we will accelerate investments in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare programmes and interventions,” the minister said.
He further appreciated the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, for initiating the necessary reforms for repositioning the scheme and ensuring accountability and transparency in the disbursement process.
Sambo however, said the event was historic as the country was taking giant steps towards attaining universal health coverage.
While appreciating the President for his political will and courage to commence the implementation of the BHCPF, the fund would bring healthcare within the reach of indigents and vulnerable citizens.
“Today we are witnessing the operationalisation of the NHIS gateway of the funds through disbursement of N6.5b of the first phase to 15 states including the FCT.
“`The BHCPF is expected to be funded firstly, through the Federal Government’s annual grant of not less than one per cent of its consolidated revenue.
“Secondly grants by international donor and development partners; and thirdly funds from other sources,’’ he said.
Edited by Chioma Ugboma/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore