BY CHRIS EMEJURU
What is the essence of health care in Nigeria? Something so significant, so vital, not just economically, but a universal right for all people and not just the privileged few. As water is a necessity, health care should be just as of vital importance and a topic of urgent priority.
Addressing these challenges on a Federal, State, Local level, and as a citizen of the Federal Republic, fresh thinking is needed. What methods of financing is needed in the improvement of health systems for a better quality of life? How do we improve our approach to building and maintaining health care facilities (Hospitals) especially in rural communities in our state and local government areas? Finally, as a nation of intellectuals, scholars, and minds with vast potential, how do we institute research indigenously into solving the issues we as a nation face in health care today.
The notion of Health Insurance in Nigeria is something not culturally embedded in the Health Sector or even our society Nigeria at large. Around for decades, as an experiment, fully being translated into the NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme 1999), health insurance has not gotten the necessary exposure or attention it should. Although, there are significant steps taken in this scheme, to understand the importance, you must understand Health Insurance.
We will look at two options. Private and Public Insurance. Private Insurance companies do exist in Nigeria, regulated, to a certain extent. Their purpose, in basic terms, is to provide the funds so that you can see your Doctor (or health care specialist). To receive this service, you pay what is called a premium or a small percentage of your salary periodically (weekly, monthly or however your plan is set) and it is given to this Insurance company so whenever you have a condition or ailment, they take that money and give a portion of it to your Health Care Provider (Hospital) as payment for your condition. This type of agreement can be much more specific, but this is just to give an idea of it.
To receive this service (health insurance), it is important to do some research on the company providing it. Health Insurance companies must be financially capable of paying for your health care (Hospital bills, etc) so you need to know they have that Financial ability. NAICOM (National Insurance Commission) is the regulatory arm of the Insurance Industry and is accountable to YOU so they should also work on your behalf so you don’t get cheated. Finally, there is the NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme) which is a social scheme aimed at providing Health Insurance from a Government level perspective.
The equipping, maintaining, and management of hospitals in Nigeria (especially in rural communities) is of extreme significance. Hospitals need to be upheld to the highest standard whether concerning infrastructure development, quality of personnel, or safe and reliable treatments (especially when dealing with counterfeit drugs-regulated by NAFDAC). Information Communication Technology (which is primarily youth driven) is of extreme importance to accomplish these tasks.
For example, concerning infrastructure development, connecting Public contractors with technology devices to purchase construction materials, transport them, and manage workers will allow for more easier and efficient way of creating a solid project. Quality of personnel could also be enhanced through IT by creating a centralized database of information from Private/Public Employers of Hospital or Educational institutions to decide who is able or qualified to work in which capacity.
That is just one example. Finally, ICT could definitely be instrumental in tracking and ending the rampant distribution of counterfeit drugs (fake medication) into our country.
Cancer, Ebola, Malaria, Polio, and H.I.V A.I.D.S all have one thing in common. There is no cure…….Yet! There can be, but it starts with us. It starts with Research. It starts with application. No doubt there is the will and brain power. Its just applying it in principle for the greater good. Funding, Creating, and Sourcing ideas and innovation whether scientifically, technologically, or otherwise will unlock so much of what is in each and every one of us, which is potential. Potential in a Nation that has so much. Its now time we embrace it.