UNICEF Urges Full Implementation Of Health Insurance To Curb Nigeria’s Child Mortality


Some participants at the two-day media dialogue on “Changing the Narrative on Child Mortality Through Health Insurance,” organised by the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ibadan, Oyo State, Wednesday.

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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has urged comprehensive implementation of the health insurance scheme to address the issue of maternal and child mortality, while lessening the financial strain of healthcare costs on at-risk families.

UNICEF stated that the high costs associated with medical treatment discourage individuals and families from seeking timely and necessary healthcare services, thus increasing the risk of child mortality.

Experts at a two-day media forum in Ibadan, titled 'Changing the Narrative on Child Mortality through Health Insurance,' stressed the need for increased advocacy and awareness on importance of  health insurance in achieving universal healthcare coverage.

Dr. Ijeoma Agbo, UNICEF health specialist, who spoke on ‘Access to Health Insurance: A Gateway to Achieve Universal Health Coverage for all in Nigeria,’ said though the percentage of enrollees has steadily increased over the years, a substantial part of the population, especially the vulnerable, remains uninsured.

Agbo stressed that to fast-track progress towards universal healthcare in Nigeria, concerted efforts must be geared towards addressing systemic challenges as well as strengthening health systems.

“Achieving UHC requires a multi-sectoral and collaborative approach involving government agencies, healthcare providers, donor agencies, civil society organisations, the private sector, communities and the media,” she said.

The Executive Secretary of Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYHISA), Dr. Olusola Akande, said about 500,000 individuals would be insured in the state before the end of the year.

Akande, who gave a scorecard of the agency, said the state government had committed more than N1 billion to the scheme, and enrollees, including the vulnerable, pay N13, 500 yearly to enjoy the health package.

On her part, the Communication Officer, UNICEF, Blessing Ejiofor, said access to health insurance plays an important role in ensuring that children receive timely healthcare services they need to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential in life.

To close the existing gaps in health insurance coverage for vulnerable populations, Ejiofor urged participating journalists to become active champions by using their various platforms to bring everyone's attention to the issue.