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Doctors plan health cover for 5m Nigerians, as NHIS fails to deliver

Doctors in Nigeria are backing an independent project to register five million Nigerians on health insurance over the next three years. Nigerian Medical Association says…

Doctors in Nigeria are backing an independent project to register five million Nigerians on health insurance over the next three years.

Nigerian Medical Association says the project, called “5 by 3” is not a part of the existing National Health Insurance Scheme but a “social safety net” for millions of Nigerians who otherwise are unable to afford or access health services.

The exact workings of the “5 by 3” project are still being finalised, following progress similar social safety nets have demonstrated in other countries where it has been used.

“It has worked marvellously in Sri Lanka, where it has improved their health indices,” said Dr Francis Faduyile, president of association at a briefing in Abuja.

The “5 by 3” project comes as the NMA has directed doctors not to participate in any state-level health insurance schemes activated “without the input of body of doctors in the state.”

The directive has been standing but was re-issued at the association’s annual general conference in Abakiliki last week.

The association insists on a need for “meaningful engagement between the government and stakeholders on workable, beneficial and sustainable terms and conditions application to all parties.”

The National Health Insurance Scheme has come under criticism for its slow progress in covering all Nigerians.

Many Nigerians outside the formal work sector and the federal civil service are yet to be covered.

Controversies have also trailed services provided in hospitals, with patients denied care or proper treatment because of issues with health management organisations (HMOs).

HMOs and hospitals have been in arguments over choice between paying monthly capitation and paying fee for service.

NMA says the capitation of N750 is “not enough” to take care of health needs and fee for service is working better for especially private hospitals listed as providers.

“NHIS has never reviewed [the capitation since it started],” Faduyile told Daily Trust.

It should “increase capitation and review all other fees for services rendered,” he noted.

“It has caused a lot of backlog and we need to review them for the benefit of Nigerians.”