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Telecom tax, diaspora remittance to fund health insurance for older persons — Report

The ministerial committee report on the provision of health insurance for the retirees and elderly in Nigeria has identified telecoms levy/tax, diaspora remittance, general revenue…

The ministerial committee report on the provision of health insurance for the retirees and elderly in Nigeria has identified telecoms levy/tax, diaspora remittance, general revenue (from the Basic Health Care Provision Fund) and aviation tax as potential revenue sources for health insurance for older persons in the country.

The report also suggests sin tax, social health insurance contribution and petroleum subventions as other potential sources.

Presenting the report in Abuja, the chairman of the technical working group of the ministerial committee, Jonathan Eke, said the report also recommends that government should increase investment in healthcare for coverage of health insurance of older persons, or a pluralistic financing system should be adopted.

Quoting the report, he said,“Strong political will and consensus building is required to carry out reforms, and existing administrative structures such as NHIA need to be strengthened and used for implementation.”

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Linus Awute, the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for the Provision of National Health Insurance Scheme to the Retirees and Elderly, said the report is a summation of pieces of evidence that the committee has gathered towards achieving universal health coverage. 

He said by virtue of the NHIA Act, it is not a closed ended decision that the BHCPF must be derived from only 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund .

“We can still evolve some advocacy strategies that can make us have more. The federal government is involved in some operations. We can do some policy review that will give some of these operations to the private sector,” he added.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie  Ehanire, said Nigeria is a signatory to several global initiatives and committed to the health and development of its citizens, adding that  the inclusion of elderly in NHIS is in accordance with the vision to attain Universal Health Coverage, that is “Leaving No One Behind”. 

He said the committee was inaugurated as part of President Buhari’s commitment to improving the quality of care of the elderly through provision of health insurance, with the following Terms of Reference (TOR): to assess the current situation of health insurance coverage and access to healthcare for   retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria, and to develop a national framework for effective health insurance coverage of retirees and senior citizens, among others.