By Ruth Oginyi
The Government of Ebonyi State says it has allocated N450 million through the Health Policy Plus (HP+) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the commencement of health insurance scheme in the state.
Governor David Umahi disclosed this when the Country Director of HP+ Nigeria, Onoriode Ezire, and the team from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NIHS) and its development partners visited the him at Government House in Abakaliki.
Umahi expressed the state government readiness to key into the scheme, adding that the State has already set up a board to oversee the scheme with a chairman already appointed.
He added that his administration had earlier set out the sum of N800 million towards the commencement of the scheme which he had directed the State Ministry of Health and its agencies to immediately carry out Staff audit, facility enumeration and other logistics necessary for the scheme to take off.
The governor assured that all knots would be tightened within a week for the immediate commencement of the scheme in the State.
Meanwhile, the Country Director of HP+ Nigeria, Onoriode Ezire, had commended Governor Umahi for his political will and drive towards establishing the Health insurance scheme in the state.
He described the scheme as a catalyst for development, adding that their visit to the state was as a result of the Governors visit to the Agency.
Ezire noted that HP+ had track record of transferring the financial narrative of Health cases as well as develop manpower capacity and policies for the Health sector.
The HP+ Country Director pointed out that for the scheme to fully take off in the stat , USAID would first assess selected medical facilities with a view to partnering in their upgrade, as well as train the committees, the officers in charge and other personnel from ward levels.
He told the governor, “Your Excellency, remember that early last year, I arranged a visit for you to visit USAID and then you visited. And because of that visit, they have allocated a token of about N450 million for us to work with you in Ebonyi State.
“They are going to train all your ward development Committee, if they have been constituted. The first thing they will do is to assess facilities in the primary health care providers: the number of Primary Health Care providers in the ward; do they have light, basic medical equipments and other facilities?
“And 45 percent of the fund, through the Primary Health Care Development Agency would be used to address those gaps.”
Also, the Director of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Ben Omogho, while stating their mission said they were in the State to interface with the state government on the technical and procedural requirements for the kick-off of the scheme.
He explained that the scheme which covers nine major health aspects: Malaria, Child mortality, Pregnancy etc. has been operative at the federal level since 2005.
Omogho noted that the scheme would further guarantee to the citizens the full enjoyment of the huge investments of the Governor in the health sector and lunch the state into the national target of universal health coverage in the near future.