Health Insurance Scheme: Governor Bello’s Brilliant Initiative, by Nafisa Bello
Ask a sick person the value of health and the time-tested cliche, ‘Health is Wealth’, becomes clearer. Therefore, for a country to be regarded as a wealthy nation, it must have a robust, quality and affordable public healthcare service for the benefit of the of the people, especially the low-income earners who are often in overwhelming majority in third world countries.
While campaigning for office in 2015, Governor Bello promised a revolution in the education and health sectors. When he eventually became the Governor, the two sectors became part of major areas his administration has paid a lot of quality attention to.
In the last 5 years of his administration, there has been this noticeable increase in health financing with heavy investment on Infrastructure capacity building towards improving the service delivery of work force. In addition, procurement and distribution of essential medicines, electronic data capturing and tracking system have improved the Health Management Information System in the state.
Meanwhile, sometimes in August 2021, Kogi State Health Insurance Agency (KGSHIA), under the Vulnerable Group Health Insurance Programme of Governor Yahaya Bello, announced the enrolment of over 31,000 persons across the 21 local government areas of the state.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Aledare Adekunle, who made the disclosure, said that the bill establishing the agency was passed by the House of Assembly on November 18, 2018, and the state Governor Bello assented to it in April 24, 2019.
The Health Insurance Initiative provides affordable healthcare services to the people. It also provides financial risks and strengthening health system by reducing user fees which constitute a major barrier in accessing healthcare need at the point of service delivery.
Meanwhile, there is also Bello Health Intervention (BHI) Program which was designed to help critically sick and indigent patients particularly the vulnerable children with various life-threatening issues. The BHI addresses the plights of patients ranging from those with stroke, congestive heart failure, malignant diseases, various degrees of trauma including Spinal cord injury etc. In critical cases some patients were sent abroad for advanced treatments.
Through BHI, 50,000 surgeries were successfully conducted. These were apart from other medical treatments including eye care, gynaecological care, laboratory investigations and others that were rendered for free for indigentpatients while others were treated abroad through indigent funds set up under the initiative. In fact one of the most fascinating of these was the successful separation of conjoined twins.
The government also procured assorted customized paediatric drugs for citizens, mostly of lower social economic status irrespective of your tribe, location or political affiliation.
The Ministry of Health in conjunction with Kogi State Bureau for Private Public Partnership (BPPP) partners with willing investors to bring quality healthcare services into the State under a PPP arrangement, in the areas of radio diagnostics and laboratory services.
The Ministry of health also equipped five selected public hospitals across the three senatorial districts with State-of-the-art medical equipment, peak performance theatre equipment, essential drugs and premium quality diagnostic apparatus of international standards.
To further illustrate the promise he made, the Primary Health Care Centre across the wards in the state were renovated and remodelled for proper usage in delivery of health care services to the locals.
The abandoned Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic Imaging Center (CAMDIC) has been remodelled and currently providing services such as the Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, Digital Mammography, Digital Radiography, echocardiography, fluoroscopy, sonology with Doppler services.
The establishment of Kogi State Sustainable Drug Supply system (SDSS) was designed to ensure a systemic provision of genuine and affordable drugs to the health facilities in a sustainable manner.
An electronic data tracking system was also introduced to track drug consumption and utilization at the heath facility level. This is in addition to the establishment of the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (PHEOC) for the coordination of emergency outbreaks response; Nutrition House for the Acceleration of Nutrition result to quicken the delivery of nutrition services to the malnourished children.
In line with his priority on health, Bello inaugurated a steering committee for the implementation of the Basic Health care provision funds and released N100 million bond amongst other requirement to participate in the program.
To assist the pregnant women, Kogi state government has also launched Emergency Transport Scheme (ETS) to ease their transportation from rural areas to the designated hospitals.
The collaboration of the government with the Saving One Million Lives Initiative has reduced maternal mortality significantly and infant mortality to less than 10 per 1000 lives birth by the year 2019.
For this unprecedented development, the state was rated with the lowest Infant mortality rates in Nigeria in 2019 in a study by the National Population Commission (NPC), and the Federal Ministry of Health which was sponsored by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID).
In a bid to address the menace of unprofessional practices in the Health Sector, the government prepared a bill for combating the menace of medical quackery in public and private health facilities. This was after the governor assented to a bill for the establishment of the Reference Hospital, Okene.
In a nutshell, Governor Yahaya Bello deserved to be described as a change maker who has faithfully kept his promises in the health sector.
Nafisat Bello is with Politics Digest Abuja