Last Tuesday, wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr. Mrs Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; Lagos State Health Commissioner, Prof. Akin Abayomi and other senior government officials called on Lagos residents to embrace the state’s Health Insurance, especially for the sake of women, children and other vulnerable. MURITALA AYINLA reports
Access to quality health service has been the major challenges in Africa. It is largely seen as the major factor responsible for needless deaths and protracted health challenges confronting people of the continent. In Nigeria, for instance, healthcare system remains highly polarized with discriminatory effect between the rich and the poor.
Issues relating to quality health service are usually seen as prerogative of the few rich and a survival of the fittest- a development which makes some wealthy Nigerians to travel abroad for a common cold or headache while some could die of Malaria of Typhoid fever due to lack of access to good healthcare system. But to make all Lagosians, regardless of their status, have access to the needed healthcare without suffering financial hardship, the Lagos State government established the health insurance scheme through State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), to guaranty equal access and affordable health service.
The scheme, among other things, will close the gap between the demand for health spending and available public resources, as well as reduce the prolonged reliance on out-of-pocket spending by families across the state. The healthcare services covered under the Lagos health insurance scheme include: outpatient care for common ailments and conditions; maternal, newborn and child care including caeserean section where necessary; access to family planning counseling and services; management of uncomplicated chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, among others; access to HIV and TB testing services; minor surgeries such as incision drainage, herniorraphy, appendectomy; and health promotion and diseases prevention. Speaking during the launch of Ilera Eko Day which is a symbolic social campaign designed to integrate Lagos residents to the health insurance policy of the state government, held at LTV Blue Roof in Agidingbi, Ikeja, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said it is a known fact that out of pocket payment for healthcare deters access to Health Services especially for indigents and vulnerable persons in the society.
He added that the scheme has been designed to ensure that all residents of the state have unhindered access to sustainable quality and affordable healthcare services with financial risk protection. Abaoyomi said: “To ensure that the indigent and vulnerable who are most susceptible to the difficulties of out of pocket payments for healthcare are enrolled into the Lagos State Health Scheme, the Lagos State Government has set aside 1% of the State’s consolidated revenue as Equity fund contribution to pay Insurance premium for vulnerable and indigent in the state.
These individuals were identified using a multi-dimensional poverty index tool to ensure accuracy, reliability and validity of the data generated. “Since the commencement of the scheme over 40,000 residents who fall under this group have enjoying access to free health care as part of the state government’s equity contribution. However, the 1% CRF can only cater for a very low percentage of the indigent and vulnerable in the state; in other to keep the promise of “health for all”, concerted efforts are being made by the Lagos State Health Management Agency to enlarge and sustain the pool to provide health insurance cover for the teeming Equity fund beneficiaries.
One of the strategic steps being taken by the Agency is to implement a Crowd Funding Initiative; The Eko Social Health Alliance (EKOSHA), an alliance of local and international private, corporate and development partners designed to raise additional funds through multiple sources to pay premiums for the poor unable to pay for themselves. Plans are ongoing to implement this initiative in the second quarter of the year 2021.
The Government has also made provision for all State and Local Government workers and their nuclear families to be enrolled into the Scheme at a subsidized rate. The Government will pay 75% of the cost of their premium while the workers will bear the remaining 25%.” On her part, wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu urged residents to sign up for the Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS), saying it is in the collective interest of the state and wellbeing of the people for all to join the train. She said the scheme aptly signifies the commitment of the present administration towards promoting human right to health and resilient healthcare network. “The evolution of this scheme identifies with the global clarion call to inclusive health make-up which is termed Universal Health Coverage.
This was conceptualized to close glaring coverage gaps and meet the health targets agreed under the Sustainable Development Goals.” Describing health as a foundational investment in human capital and economic growth, the First Lady said it allows countries to make the most of their strongest asset – human capital, adding: “With good health structure, children are able to go to school and adults are able to go to work.” She said Ilera Eko would be playing a key role in pursuing the health policy objectives of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda by expanding the coverage of the Family Health Strategy and scale up the quality of health services, thereby attracting and retaining qualified health.
“All residents, regardless of socio-economic and ethno-religious identity, including the vulnerable are encouraged to make the right choices by signing up for this scheme because our lives, livelihoods and future depend on it,” the First Lady said.
On his part, Chairman of LASHMA Board, Dr Adetokunbo Alakija said Ilera Eko would be celebrated annually to mark the state’s journey to 100 percent coverage of informal sector into the state health scheme. While urging more residents to subscribe to the scheme, General Manager, LASHMA, Dr Emmanuella Zamba, said that in order to ensure more residents are encouraged to participate in the scheme, the agency has put in place an installment payment structure “Pay-Small-Small”, designed for members of cluster groups of the informal sector to ease payment of insurance premium.
Zamba hinted that there were plans to deploy USSD codes for ease of registration unto the Scheme, to be rolled out in the second quarter of this year. She added that the “Pay- Small-Small” was currently being piloted in Alimosho LGA, whereby people can contribute as little as N100 daily or N1000 monthly and would have access to care once the first month’s premium has been made.
She said: “It pays subscribe to the scheme. Some of the services covered under the Lagos health insurance scheme include outpatient care for common ailments and conditions; maternal, newborn and child care including caesarean section where necessary; access to family planning counseling and services; management of uncomplicated chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, among others; access to HIV and TB testing services; minor surgeries such as incision drainage, herniorraphy, appendectomy; and health promotion and diseases prevention.” Speaking on the gains of the scheme, a resident, Rev. Victor Oluranti Odebode, 72, who was introduced to the scheme three years ago, urged Lagosians to prioritise their health by subscribing to the scheme. “Since that last year I have been taking treatment, getting consultations, and taking medications.
I felt alright. After one year, I continued by renewing my bouquet. Only those living can serve the Lord. Our body daily deteriorated, all the functions weaken, but when we have supplements it keeps us moving on. I urge the people to key in into the Ilera Eko health scheme. I urge the agency to increase the benefits in the package to about 90 per cent for the vulnerable and senior citizens,” he said.