– Advocates adequate, timely remuneration for providers
Healthcare practitioners in Lagos State, under the aegis of the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN), Lagos State Chapter, have tasked the Lagos State Ministry of Health and Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), on full commitment to the implementation of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act, by deploying the new modus operandi consistent with the spirit and letter of the NHIA Act 2022 and the LSHS Act 2015.
The professionals gave the charge at the recent HCPAN’s Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting, held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Alausa, Lagos, with the theme, “Advancing health insurance uptake towards universal health coverage : Collaborative role of healthcare providers”.
In her opening speech at the AGM, the Chairman of the association, Pharm. Abiola Paul-Ozieh, noted that health insurance has the potential to redeem the comatose health sector in Nigeria if well managed, saying Lagos state occupies a crucial position in the realisation of this as the centre of excellence.
She said in terms of access to healthcare, private health facilities account for about 60 per cent of services provided in the country, adding that with a staggering 60 per cent provision of health services by the private sector, the crucial role the group plays in the healthcare sector cannot be overemphasised in ensuring accessibility to healthcare services.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, Paul-Ozieh mentioned that Nigeria is committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage(UHC) within the shortest possible time, adding that UHC which is currently a global trend has been identified as a major strategy for the improvement of health outcomes, ensuring the sustainability of such improvements and accelerating overall socio-economic development.
“A key thrust in UHC is that individuals should be able to access healthcare regardless of their ability to pay, which implies protection from the financial risk of being ill.
While advocating for continuous quality improvement of the LSHS to ensure more coverage, better quality services and patient satisfaction, the HCPAN boss, however, pledged the group’s unwavering support to the government of the state for positive contribution, collaboration and cooperation towards the realisation of UHC in the state, adding that as healthcare providers, they hope for better health services and health outcomes for a robust integrated public-private sector contribution.
She added, “We posit that healthcare providers must be remunerated according to their services adequately and timely, and we also posit that for a robust health system and implementation of Lagos State Health Scheme or Insurance, there must be segregation of facilities into primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities. Also, for effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services, we posit that there must be separation of professional roles”.
In his keynote address titled, “Advancing health insurance uptake towards universal health coverage: Collaborative role of healthcare providers”, Dr Victor J.K Benebo, the pioneering managing director, Phillips Health Management Services Limited, noted that the new NHIA Act 2022 has given a significant impetus towards the attainment of UHC, saying unlike the NHIA Act 2004 which was generally perceived by health sector stakeholders as having legally weak framework majorly because it made participation in health insurance voluntary and not mandatory.
He further noted that the new NHIA Act is a critical aspect of the needed reform in healthcare financing in our country, stressing that if well implemented, it has the potential to reduce OOP expenditure from the current 77 per cent to 30 per cent, which is one of the goals of UHC.
Speaking on the roles of the healthcare providers in driving UHC, Benebo stated f that healthcare is majorly driven by the private sector, which serves as the first point of call for over 80 per cent of patients, adding that in total, the private sector currently accounts for around 65-70 per cent of all healthcare provision in Nigeria. Most Nigerians pay for healthcare services out of pocket.
His words, “Innovative partnerships and collaborations between stakeholders have proven to be effective in addressing challenges facing the healthcare system, and the importance of continued collaboration between all players within the health ecosystem remains critical to the attainment of Universal Health coverage. Therefore, collectively, we must recognize and support the role of innovation, enabling strong health systems and multi-stakeholder partnerships to improve readiness, resilience and the country’s future health security.
He however called for innovation and multi-sectoral collaboration among stakeholders with government commitment, saying it is critical to achieving UHC, adding that HCPAN has a crucial role to play as the provider of about 70 per cent of health care services.
Other stakeholders present at the programme include Mr Tosin Awosika, consultant to LASHMA; Dr Gloria Okoekhian, chairman, Nigeria Optometric Association; Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator, chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria; Dr Remi Durojaiye, chairman, Nigerian Society of Physiotherapists; Dr Afolabi Ogunderu, chairman, Association of Private Dental Practitioner of Nigeria; Abimbola Adekoya, chairman, Guild of Medical Laboratory Directors; Olawale Oladapo, chairman, Association of General Private Nursing Practitioners; Dr Makinde Akinlemibola, chairman, Association of Nigeria Private Medical Practitioners, as well as operators of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), medical practitioners, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists, among others.