Prof. Mohammed Sambo is the Govt Secretary of Nationwide Well being Insurance coverage Scheme (NHIS). On this interview with journalists, Sambo spoke on efforts taken to revive public confidence within the scheme, amongst different points. NKECHI ONYEDIKA-UGOEZE was there for The Guardian. 

On assumption of workplace in 2019, you reeled out a three-point agenda, how far have you ever been in a position to actualise them? 
On July 15, 2019, once I assumed duties within the Nationwide Well being Insurance coverage Scheme (NHIS), I unveiled a three-point rebranding agenda. One of many agenda is to revive the worth system of the group and make it a reputable, result-oriented outfit. The second is to implement basic transparency and accountability in our operations, whereas the third is to speed up the drive to realize Common Well being Protection (UHC).

The primary agenda has to do with the restoration of worth system. We made it the primary as a result of NHIS has been bedeviled by so many issues, which have made folks to lose confidence within the organisation. It’s supposed to take care of the well being wants of over 200 million folks, however it’s unlucky that it has no credible plans to realize the mandate. There have been a number of squabbles inside the organisation to the extent that nearly each two years, a brand new chief govt officer emerges. I’m the twelfth CEO within the organisation’s 20 years existence and if you happen to do the calculation you’ll realise that in lower than two years, one CEO leaves; so, it has grow to be a joke within the organisation {that a} CEO can’t exceed two years in workplace. This was the explanation folks celebrated me once I accomplished two years in workplace. Lots of them stated it has been lengthy they witnessed a CEO serve past two years in workplace. I feel we’ve been in a position to obtain stability on this space and have additionally been in a position to develop a roadmap that can assist the organisation have sturdy well being protection. The squabbles are over and workers can now work to satisfy the organisation’s goal.

That is the extent we’ve taken NHIS to. Going into specifics, as to what we’ve achieved, you may have a look at the governance and management, the human useful resource, the monetary administration system, operation of the medical insurance, the partnership and collaboration in addition to the true technical operation. And if we’re to dwell on every of them, we are going to discuss for hours with out finish.

On the management and governance, I have to level out that prior to now, all of the group actions had been largely managed on the headquarters. We now have about 9 zonal workplaces, 38 state workplaces and the FCT; by 38 state workplaces, Lagos State has two totally different state workplaces as designated. These state workplaces had been there, however they weren’t functioning as a result of many of the actions had been pushed from the headquarters. Greater than 40 per cent of about1,400 NHIS workforce had been on the headquarters, whereas 60 per cent had been distributed among the many states. The state workplaces had been in a scenario the place you go and see solely six workers, most of them had lower than 10 workers. With workers concentrated on the headquarters, this meant folks residing within the states had much less officers to cater for them. To unravel this problem, we engaged the precept of decentralisation of governance to strengthen the state workplaces and made them credible to hold out a decentralised perform. We additionally injected related, crucial human sources that can drive the organisation’s actions at that stage.

In my earlier interview, I discussed that of the 1400 NHIS workers solely 46 are healthcare employees and by healthcare employees, I meant medical medical doctors, nurses, lab scientists and pharmacists. The core mandate of medical insurance scheme is to interface with the enrollees who’re sufferers going to the amenities to obtain healthcare companies. We accredit healthcare amenities, guarantee enrollees obtain the suitable healthcare companies. Should you do not need related healthcare professionals to do the job, how would you be capable to execute such an enormous and technical perform? It’s with this that we engaged a minimum of 5 healthcare employees —two medical medical doctors, one pharmacist, one nurse and a medical lab scientist — in every state. These folks at the moment are turning issues round for good on the varied centres.

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With such enhancements, what number of Nigerians at the moment are lined by the scheme?
I’ve stated on a number of event that I don’t need to use figures. Earlier than I got here in, states weren’t performing medical insurance till a regulation was handed to that impact. To this point, we’ve 37 states which have began the implementation of the essential healthcare insurance coverage scheme and so they have lined a number of grounds by way of numbers. So, if you wish to get the precise quantity, it requires aggregation. Some states have lined about 70,000 folks, some 50,000, others 20,000, the figures are not any common, however the states are certainly working.

Final week, we launched the NYSC programme, the place about 360,000 Youth Corps members might be registered. If in case you have been following us, you will note that the Nationwide Meeting has put in a number of fund of their constituencies, we’ve been visiting these constituencies and are enrolling them into the social medical insurance scheme. We now have additionally launched what we name ‘GIFSHIP.’

With GIFSHIP — Group, Particular person and Household Social Well being Insurance coverage Programme — we goal at driving the formal and casual sectors into social medical insurance programme.
The programme goals at bringing the casual sector into the healthcare scheme and thru it, extra Nigerians together with these in Diaspora will register. We hope to automate our system to retailer and mixture knowledge. I can inform you that a number of work has been carried out by way of our reforms, however I won’t be able to present you a really correct knowledge as a result of I’m a public well being doctor; I don’t need to discuss statistics.

However in absolute quantity, we are able to say we’ve lined over 15 million Nigerians. As I’m speaking to you, if you happen to go to our NHIS MCC workplace, you may see extra numbers dropping; so, it’s steady course of.

Final 12 months you partnered Roche to subsidy medication for most cancers remedy and in addition, established Catastrophic Fund for terminal diseases. How are these initiatives doing? 
NHIS got here up with the thought of creating a catastrophic fund for terminal sickness, nonetheless, earlier than I got here right here, there was a funds for most cancers, however the unlucky factor is that the cash for that was despatched to the Ministry of Well being. To additional take care of the folks, we launched the NHIS drug initiative to make sure that medication can be found in our system and the associated fee subsidised. We now have an excellent interplay with drug producers affiliation of Nigeria on this. They’ve agreed to collaborate with NHIS and all of the stakeholders on board. This implies we are able to begin branding medication with medical insurance prescriptions. Doing this, we are going to make the medication accessible and at a decreased price too. In truth, we’ve a Memorandum of Understanding with Roche Prescription drugs to subsidise most cancers medication by 70 per cent; so, NHIS enrollees will solely pay 30 per cent of the associated fee.

Final week, Roche knowledgeable us that they’ve secured the approval of NAFDAC to begin branding its anti-cancer medication with NHIS prescriptions. That is how far we’ve gone. We’re decided to make most cancers medication accessible by way of this type of collaboration. With this, points that must do with prescribed generic medication or substandard generic medication might be a factor of the previous. We’re going to have a branding and the Minister of Well being has permitted it.

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Would the N3trillion you as soon as proposed for insurance coverage healthcare protection nonetheless be satisfactory to cater for 200 million Nigerians on this present economic system?
It’s a easy arithmetic, assuming no Nigerian has entry to healthcare companies globally and also you need to convey all of them into the system on the present price of N15,000 per head per 12 months, it’s going to contain large sums of cash. So, if you happen to multiply N15,000 by 200 million folks you’ll be speaking about N3 trillion, that is only a projection. We’re not saying it’s important to give NHIS the cash for healthcare companies; it’s simply the associated fee required.

You stated social medical insurance would cowl the susceptible and, additionally the one-kobo-per-second telecom costs will enhance funding if linked to NHIS. Because the one-kobo-per-second telecom cost has been faraway from the proposed amended act, what’s changing it; when will the medical insurance begin and when will the president accent to this amended Act? 
I do know Mr. President will signal the NHIS Amended Act as a result of social insurance coverage may be very crucial to the healthcare supply system of any nation. There was an argument within the one-kobo-per-second name and can’t be carried out for now till all of the gray areas are eliminated.

Nevertheless, Nationwide Meeting members have created a susceptible fund inside the proposed Modification Invoice. However do we’ve necessary social medical insurance? No! We must also consider the way to innovatively fund it. The creation of that susceptible fund is step one in direction of having a compulsory social common protection as a result of we’ve been knowledgeable that by way of dialogue we are able to have the susceptible fund included within the monetary act. Even when prime policy-makers settle for it, the proposal nonetheless has to cross by way of the suitable channels; perhaps the monetary act. So, hope shouldn’t be misplaced, as we will proceed to dialogue to realize our goal.

How have you ever been in a position to tackle the variations between HMOs and healthcare suppliers, and the complaints that service suppliers exploit subscribers by giving them solely ache relieves medication of their amenities?
You’ve got requested two questions in a single, however I’ll separate them for this dialogue. The primary query has to do with the variations between service suppliers and HMOs. After I got here into NHIS, the HMOs had been alleged to be owing healthcare suppliers some huge cash; in truth, we didn’t know the precise quantity, so, we despatched out advertorial in three nationwide dailies for service supplier owed by HMO to submit proof of indebtedness to the NHIS. We received a number of complains claims from the healthcare suppliers and due to this, we setup a committee that went by way of the claims and found that HMOs had been owing healthcare suppliers over N5billion. With this, we got here up for the primary time with what we known as decentralised reconciliation system, the place we reconciled each events on the state stage.

We developed a instrument for this and skilled our workers on the state stage on the way to function them. We despatched data to them because it pertains to their state and so they labored for nearly 4 weeks reconciling the 2 teams. Happy with the committee’s work, among the HMOs paid the well being gives what they had been owing them out rightly, whereas others signed settlement to pay in two or three months’ time. We are able to conveniently say that we recovered over N2.3 billion from that course of. Though, there have been some contentious points, however as a result of among the healthcare suppliers haven’t any proof to substantiate their claims their points stay pending.

Not too long ago, healthcare suppliers launched a brand new tariff, saying from February 1, 2022, HMOs would pay them primarily based on the brand new tariff or they cease attending to their shoppers. What’s your tackle this?
You will need to perceive that there are two methods medical insurance works. Although we frown on the different one, the primary one is the one which comes from the nationwide medical insurance scheme. There was a squabble between healthcare suppliers and the HMOs that the NHIS needed to intervene. We summoned them to a gathering, the place we stated with out worry of contradiction that the healthcare suppliers haven’t any proper to set tariff for medical insurance. The accountability of setting tariff is that of the medical insurance, due to this fact, that tariff they’ve set is void and of no consequence.

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Secondly, we realised that the HMOs and healthcare suppliers have launched a fee system they known as roaming, which is alien to the nationwide medical insurance. The fee system is neither in response to our guideline nor in our regulation. We now have advised them categorically that the fee is alien to NHIS and have complied them to revert to medical insurance correct if they’re to be regulated and any HMO that isn’t taking part in in response to the principles or tips of NHIS may have itself responsible. NHIS has elevated its charges for companies, which is why the healthcare suppliers are glad and have requested the HMOs to extend tariff for his or her personal strains. Because the HMOs haven’t carried out this, the well being suppliers held a convention and develop the brand new tariff.

We now have reconciled them and are additionally trying into the tariff to see if it may very well be carried out by NHIS. The assembly ended on a pleasant be aware, which is why no supplier has denied any enrollee from getting its companies.

The second query is extreme complaints by the enrollees within the supplier’s setting. This is likely one of the main issues we’ve inherited. Previous to this era, there was room for enforcement, monitoring and monitoring, however the monitoring instruments are not any extra there for us to make use of, so, suppliers at the moment are doing what they need. Nevertheless, since we’ve stepped in to reconcile debt, we’ve efficiently settled the healthcare suppliers, and enhance tariff.

The issues within the organisation are systemic and if you wish to tackle them, you have to perceive the basis causes and put credible construction on floor to examine them. To realize this, we’ve developed a framework to mixture all complaints from healthcare suppliers. It will allow us to sanction any healthcare supplier that’s registered with NHIS and isn’t residing as much as its duties to the shoppers.

With the eNHIS we’re creating, enrollees can name administration centres with NHIS toll free quantity from wherever and file complaints, if any, of the healthcare amenities defaults. As soon as the decision will get to our MCC in Wuse, we are going to en-route it to our medical medical doctors or healthcare employees within the involved state or states and they’re going to attend to the complaints and probe the amenities if needed.

On the state stage all our amenities have a contact individual to take care of complaints; we’ve created the construction and can launch it quickly. Via this, we can mixture month-to-month complaints of every healthcare facility. There could be a tolerable restrict of complaints we are able to take and if a facility goes past that restrict, we give the ability a warning. And if by subsequent month the ability doesn’t enhance, we are going to problem a warning, to be adopted by a yellow card if the scenario persists. And if after that, nothing has modified we are going to problem a pink card and transfer all of the enrollees to a different accountable facility. Previously there was no construction, however in the present day, we’ve developed one and I hope within the subsequent few months you’ll start to see the fruits of our reforms and rebranding.

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