Distribution of cards for free healthcare starts in Plateau

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Central Nigerian Officials on Wednesday started issuing free healthcare access cards to a targeted 28,091 poor and vulnerable citizens.

The programme under the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, delivered by the Nigerian federal government through the National Health Insurance Scheme targets 14,293 children under 5years-old, 6,709 elderly people above 65, 4,027 pregnant women and 3,002 people living with disability.

Plateau State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (PLASCHEMA) and Primary Healthcare Board are implementing the project in Plateau as gateways to the NHIS.

The Government of Plateau State, having paid N100million as counterpart fund to benefit from the scheme has received N337million as premium for 2019 fiscal year, Director General, PLASCHEMA, Dr. Fabong Jemchang said.

The service will be delivered through 335 Primary Health Care centers in each ward of the State for a start, said Dr. Fabong at the launch of the scheme in Jos.

PLASCHEMA, according to him has procured basic IT enrolment hardware including mobile printers, fingerprint scanners and other relevant equipment and is partnering with the Plateau State Information Communication Technology Development Agency (PICTDA) to ensure smooth enrolment of beneficiaries.

Section 11 of the Nigerian National Healthcare Act (2014) mandates the establishment of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund “to support PHC services to improve the health of all Nigerians especially vulnerable groups,” Prof. Mohammed Sambo, Executive Secretary/ CEO, NHIS said at the launch.

The Scheme released N6.5bn to Plateau State and FCT in October 2019, after meeting all requirements, said Prof. Sambo.

At least 1% of Federal, State and Local Government Consolidated revenue fund is expected under the National Health Care Act to basic healthcare. But Government in Plateau State has approved 2% of consolidated as benchmark for healthcare financing, Governor Simon Lalong said.

“Out of pocket payment for healthcare services are regressive methods of healthcare financing globally. Today, it constitutes over 70% of healthcare financing in Nigeria and that affects the poor and vulnerable who are squeezed between seeking healthcare and catering for other family needs,” said Mr. Lalong through his Deputy, Sonny Tyoden.

Delay in accessing healthcare, the Governor said can increase complications and mortality. “Thus, poverty maximizes predicament that illhealth places on individuals and has placed Nigeria low in healthcare provision.

“But with the adoption of BHPF, Plateau State is on its way to achieve universal health coverage. PHPF seeks to reduce out-of-pocket spendings on healthcare, increase access and life expectancy of citizens,” Lalong said.

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