The entire members of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCN) and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) NHIS Branch with representatives from state offices nationwide, wishes to express our unflinching support to the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf on the giant strides he has been making towards restoring the glory of the Scheme and repositioning it for better service delivery.
We wish to dissociate ourselves from the ultimatum issued to the management for the reversal of certain appointments (on secondment) which were duly approved by the Office of the Head of Service or face complete shutdown by the embattled self appointed ASCN Exco whose purported election was voided by a High Court injunction duly served to them but went ahead and conducted the election in flagrant violation of the said Court order. Only a congress meeting attended by at least two thirds majority with representatives from state offices has the power to make such a decision. And no such meeting was ever held.
The said ultimatum was clearly a desperate attempt to intimidate, distract, and cow the Executive Secretary to submit to the illusive influence and power of their shadow sponsors-HMOs and some unpatriotic indicted NHIS staff whose conduct over the years showed greediness, selfishness and I don’t care attitude to the plight of enrollees in terms of poor service delivery and outright rejection at various heath care facilities across the country owing to non remittance or delayed payment of capitations.
We wish to make it categorically clear that majority of NHIS staff are in support of the patriotic and transparent measures being taken by the Executive Secretary in fighting corruption in the system and ensuring that due diligence is strictly adhered to in the Scheme in particular and health insurance industry in general. It is on record that for the first time in the history of the organization, contracts for procurement and consultancy services were advertised and transparently bided for. It was a departure from the past when contracts were awarded based on negotiations with top management staff for kickbacks. We are not oblivious of the fact that corruption will as well fight back and it is doing so through proxy – the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria 55 person self appointed Exco who are illegally parading themselves as the legitimate representatives of the senior staff of NHIS in violation of the said Court Order earlier referred to.
As we are all aware, the laws that established the Scheme placed the onerous responsibility of safe keeping and prudent management of enrollees funds on the Executive Secretary in particular and all NHIS employees in general. It is unfortunate that some senior staff of the Scheme have over the years been collaborating with Health Maintenance Organizations to fleece enrollees of their hard earned funds meant for providing efficient and affordable health care services to them and their dependants.
It is regrettable that for almost 12 years after commencement of operations, the Scheme achieved only 4.5% coverage. This is ridiculous considering the fact that less endowed African countries like Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya have achieved 50-60% coverage. In fact, only three to four million out of a projected population of 177 million Nigerians have been covered. The core mandate of the Scheme is to cover all Nigerians, irrespective of whether they are government employees or not. We are therefore fully in support of the Executive Secretary to scale up Universal Coverage to at least 50% before expiration of his first tenure in office. His recent declaration that the Scheme will soon unveil packages to cover serving National Youth Service Corps members and rural people through Community Based Health Insurance Scheme is quite commendable.
In his efforts to clean up the mess associated with registration of enrollees including multiple registration and fake lives, the Executive Secretary has introduced electronic registration of enrollees in which enrollees data will be captured from designated points direct to the NHIS database. This policy will drastically reduce or even eliminate the massive fraud in registering enrollees and speeding up the process of accessing care at health care facilities which is often cumbersome taking about one to three months before a new enrollee starts accessing care at his/her chosen facility.
Having worked as a medical doctor for over two decades in the US and UK, the Executive Secretary places high premium on staff welfare and development. Again, for the first time in the history of the organization, over 90 % staff of the Scheme attended capacity building trainings in 2016, some even twice. They were all paid their training allowances in advance.
In line with the regulatory mandate/function of the Scheme, Desk Officers will soon be posted to various hospitals nationwide to assist enrollees access care with ease. This policy will reduce incidents of leaving enrollees stranded at hospitals with no idea of how to resolve problems emanating from the HMOs.
In view of the foregoing, we believe that supporting the current Executive Secretary is the only option available for all staff of NHIS and stake holders in the health insurance industry to enable the organization provide affordable and efficient health care services to all Nigerians .The sustained media campaign and false alarm of ethnic, sectional and religious agendas being peddled against him by unpatriotic and corrupt staff already indicted of financial wrongdoing running into billions of naira will not auger well for the health care industry and about four million Federal Civil Servants whose contributions are sustaining the Scheme.
We are sure Nigerians will know better when our anti corruption agencies start prosecuting those who embezzled workers hard earned funds.
A word is enough for the wise.