Insurance: How N650 Monthly Payment Ensures Safe Mothers, Healthy Babies
Nigeria Is Listed Among Countries With High Rates Of Pregnant Women And Children Dying Due To Poor Access To Healthcare Services. In This Report By Sade Oguntola, Experts Give Evidence On How Women And Children Can Remain Healthy Through Social Health Insurance And Without Expending Their Entire Savings On Medical Bills.
For Mrs Anuoluwapo Arowolo registering with the social health insurance schemes was an option she could not resist. Without a health insurance cover, she needs N15, 000 to book for antenatal care.
“If not under Oyo Health Insurance Scheme, I would pay N15, 000 to book for antenatal care. And If I have any complaint, need drugs or tests, I would have to pay each time,” said Mrs Arowolo, an enrollee at Alafia Hospital, Ibadan.
Mrs Opeyemi Balogun’s children are enrolled under the health scheme and access health service at Agbongbon Primary Health Care. The mother of three and a civil servant has been on the scheme for over a year.
She stated:“two of my children have benefited a lot. Whenever they are sick, without any hesitation, I bring them to Agbongbon Primary Health Care where they receive free treatment. They did not pay anything to be enrolled under the scheme.”
Although their registration will lapse by April 2019, Mrs Balogun stated: “I have been told that I will have to renew my registration in April by paying N8000, at a rate of N650 per month. I am willing to do it because it has been very beneficial to my family.”
Agbongbon Primary Health Centre is one of the operational 270 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) owned by the Oyo State government. The centre, like Alafia Hospital, is one of the facilities offering healthcare services under the state Health Insurance Scheme.
Barriers to health care remain an important predictor of child survival, reduction in maternal mortality, improved life expectancy and general improvement in health indices. One major intervention to address these barriers is health insurance, a programme that covers or shares the expenses associated with the healthcare of individuals or families.
Executive Secretary, Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA), Dr Olusola Akande, said the 18-year-month old scheme had made remarkable achievements which include over 80,000 enrollees from 33 LGAs, 350 vaginal deliveries and 78 caesarian sessions, over 10,000 children under 5 years and pregnant women covered.
He spoke at a two-day media dialogue on improving access and uptake healthcare for women and children in Oyo state through social health insurance. It was organised by the Oyo State Ministry of Information in collaboration with OYSHIA and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Akande said the goal of health insurance was to provide quality healthcare services for the people of the state without experiencing catastrophic health expenditure.
“OYSHIA has been rated very high in terms of performance. We will not relent in making sure that the people of the state enjoy quality healthcare without expending their entire savings on medical bills.
“Testimonies on its impact abound in the community. For instance, a strong antagonist of the scheme whose wife was delivered of a baby through a caesarean section at Adeoyo Teaching Hospital, Ibadan, without paying any money, later came to our office to apologise for his initial stand against the scheme,” he stated.
Not surprisingly, patronage of Agbongbon PHC has received a great boost, with the centre now having a full-time medical doctor and improved facilities to ensure the needs of its enrollee are adequately met.
Agbongbon PHC is one of the seven accredited PHCs by OYSHAI that is at various stages of renovation. Already, three others have been fully upgraded.
Assistant Record Attendant, Agbongbon PHC, Mrs Adekola Atinuke, stated that: “In the past, we used to have 20 to 22 deliveries a month, but last month alone, we had 36 deliveries.
“Last year, we had 905 pregnant women in our record. But in the first five weeks of this year alone, we have over 108 on the list already. The introduction of OYSIA has continued to increase antenatal uptake as well as the number of other patients at the Health Centre.”
Dr Mosunmola Fasan, OYSHAI’s doctor for Agbongbon PHC stated, “I have over 600 patients actually; about 400 are under-five children that are registered and catered for by the state in my facility.
“It is giving a lot of children the opportunity to be able to access health at the right time. I also have pregnant women too that are being catered for by the state government.”
Moreover, Dr Fasan added that many hypertensive and diabetic patients also receive care at the centre under the scheme.
“There is nothing more disturbing than managing a patient that cannot afford the cost of treatment. As a doctor, you cannot be happy. For that, I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve under the scheme. My patients are happy and I am happy.”
However, Dr Akande regretted that despite the success so far, the scheme is still faced with many challenges including beliefs, attitudes and customs of people on insurance policies, adverse selection, the attitude of health workers and enrollees.
UNICEF communication specialist, Mrs Blessing Ejiofor, in her remarks, said access to quality healthcare is a right of every child and charged the media to assist in reporting issues that would prompt policy makers to make life better for children, women and other vulnerable groups.
Ejiofor said the media dialogue was to create an opportunity for media advocacy on increasing access and uptake of healthcare services for children and venerable populations through the health insurance scheme using Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA) as a case study.
Also speaking at the event, Mr Rotimi Babalola, director, Press and Public Relations, Oyo state Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, praised UNICEF for its efforts in ensuring the wellbeing of children and women.
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