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Subsidise healthcare services to achieve universal health coverage, Experts urge govts



A Consultant Nephrologist, Dr Ebun Bamgboye, has urged the three tiers of government to subsidise healthcare services for both rural and urban dwellers to achieve universal health coverage.

Bamgboye, also a Clinical Director at St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, made the plea at the “The August Event” 2019 in Lagos.

It was organised to celebrate late Chief (Dr) Moses Majekodunmi Foundation’s ideals on healthcare and education as well as the St. Nicholas Hospital at 50.

Theme of the programme was: “Universal Health Coverage and the Role of a Functional National Health Insurance Scheme.”

Bamgboye said that services should be made available for all at affordable cost and at a location within the reach of all.

“The less privileged may need governments’ subsidy or through government funded health insurance scheme and the privileged pay their due costs for these services.

“We must first, as a nation, accept that the provision of universal healthcare is a fundamental human right which must be respected and implemented.

“Universal healthcare is accessible in only 58 countries across the world and half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential healthcare services according to the World Bank and WHO.

“Each year, large numbers of households are being pushed into poverty, because they must pay for the healthcare out of their pockets,” Bamgboye said.

He said that countries with universal healthcare coverage were through compulsory contributory, but government-subsidised public insurance plans, such as the UK’s National Health Service.

“There are four basic models of healthcare system which include Beveridge, National Health Insurance, Bismarck and out-of-pocket models.

“There is a clear non-realisation of the objective of making healthcare available and accessible to Nigerians at an affordable cost.

“Most Nigerians still pay out of their pockets for medical expenses, only three per cent registered on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which continues to drive many families to catastrophic health expenditures and poverty,” Bamgboye said.

He said that reasons for the failure of NHIS include: inadequate legal framework for a successful scheme, poor implementation of the act, lack of political will and poor government funding.

Bamgboye, on the success story of the hospital since 1999, said that the hospital had been working to shape the field of renal care and transplantation.

“Our comprehensive treatment for kidney disease include: dialysis, kidney transplantation and post-transplant care.

“We are working to pioneer liver transplants in West Africa; hence, the screening process for potential recipients commenced at the hospital on July 13.

“As pioneer of advanced medical care in Nigeria and driven by genuine concern for the growing healthcare challenges of the people, we now offer the therapeutic apheresis procedure,” he said.

Also, Mr Olufemi Akingbade, Lagos Zonal Coordinator, NHIS, said that the public-private partnership was very important to achieve universal health coverage.

Akingbade said that government could not achieve it alone, hence the need to involve private sectors to improve health insurance scheme.

“If healthcare service is going to be available to all, it means both governments and private sector need to start thinking of innovative ways.

“Health insurance scheme is not about health financing, but it is about creating ecosystem for the healthcare system in the country.

“Universal health coverage does not mean free health, because someone has to pay, but it can be achieved in the country.

“We can achieve universal health coverage by making it social health insurance such as benefit package that maximise everything on health.

“National Health Act needs to be strengthened; we need to get mandatory laws for everyone to be involved in the health insurance scheme,” he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that late Majekodunmi was the founder of St. Nicholas Hospital and also the first ever Minister of Health.

St. Nicholas Hospital was established in 1968 and started primarily as a hospital for women and children, but has since grown into a multidisciplinary specialist hospital.

Majekodunmi advocated a contributory health service in a Health Bill in 1963 and originally drafted by him as far back as 1951 as Secretary of the Nigeria Medical Association.

Edited by Olagoke Olatoye