Basically, everyone has the right to health. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Constitution (1946) envisages that “the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.”
To achieve this, the WHO said the rights-based approach to health requires that health policy and programmes must prioritize the needs of those furthest behind first towards greater equity, a principle that has been echoed in the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Universal Health Coverage.
The global health body further noted that the right to health must be enjoyed without discrimination on the grounds of race, age, ethnicity, or any other status. Hence, non-discrimination and equality require states to take steps to redress any discriminatory law, practice, or policy.
However, moving towards the sublime in healthcare delivery. In consonance with the desire to give a quantum leap to the health needs of the citizenry. Kebbi State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (KECHEMA) was established by Law No. 002 of 2018. Perhaps mindful of the focus of the project or better still to underscore its intended objective, the flag-off was done at Takalafiya Primary Healthcare Centre, Birnin Kebbi. It was indeed a revolutionary and cutting-edge event where the governor of Kebbi State Sen Abubakar Atiku Bagudu officially flagged off the programme in November, 2020.
The State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (KECHEMA) was primarily introduced to complement the efforts of the NHIS hence; it could not cover the estimated population of 200 million Nigerians not even one quarter (two per cent) of it. Following the unfolding events of NHIS, the need for each state to set up its health insurance scheme became apparent and Kebbi State joined other states to establish the Agency.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP Weekend the public relations officer, KECHEMA, Aliyu Jajirma Aliyu said the agency has a distinctive embellishment that separates it from the modus operandi of its offshoot.
Jajirma said KECHES operates based on two concepts, which include mutual assistance and voluntary donations which in turn dovetails into three programmes to deliver quality healthcare for the formal sector, informal sector, and vulnerable groups.
According to him, ‘’Basically, NHIS is a programme of the federal government that deals with civil servants only; it charges premiums per person in yearly. KECHES buoyed by its patient care for the grassroots has resolved to capture the health needs of the majority of the citizenry charges the least charges in the whole country in terms of premium per head for a whole year.
‘’Again, in KECHES if a person didn’t go to the hospital to access free medical services for the single reason that he is healthy, impliedly he has agreed that his fee will be used to treat another needy patient irrespective of religion, race, or tribe.
‘’It is opposite and necessarily germane to affirm here that KECHES is based on two concepts, mutual assistance, and voluntary donations and this also dovetails into three programmes which include formal sector, informal sector, and vulnerable groups.
‘’It is equally important to affirm here that KECHES was established via an imprimatur of ensuring that every resident of Kebbi State, irrespective of social inclination, tribal religious enjoys unhinged access to qualitative and affordable healthcare without the fear of risk encountering hardship linked to paying for care.
‘’In November, 2020, National Health Insurance Scheme disbursed 407,258,297.50 million to Kebbi State as programme funds. The amount has so far covered 33,938 vulnerable persons to enjoy free medical services in a year.’’
Speaking further, he said the beneficiaries of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund are presently accessing medical services at 45 designated and functional facilities in 21 local government areas out of 225 accredited facilities by NHIS.
For the records and a corollary to its obvious effectiveness, he said KECHES has captured over 1,500 through the informal sector. Most of these beneficiaries of the scheme were being sponsored by philanthropists, and by eminent Royal Fathers.
‘’Also, in order to deviate unreliable data or statistics via conventional desk work practices, the office of public relations officer of KECHEMA, decided to subject the system to impact assessment to ascertain the effectiveness of the programme owned by the citizenry,’’ Jajirma said.
Towards this, he said a media tour was embarked upon to find out to what extent both BHCPF/KECHES beneficiaries have been able to access free medical services in the state.
He said via the tour, it was discovered that the programme besides the intended objective has plural effects as it has created employment opportunities, accredited facilities have improved on their services, adding that the scheme has helped in decongesting secondary healthcare facilities because of the influx of patients regularly.
He continued, ‘’Also, it is trite to state here that to the best of its ability, all the hitherto epileptic facilities have been properly funded by KECHEMA.
Speaking to newsmen, the officer in charge (OiC) of PHC Tudunwada Argungu, Fatima Isah said 1068 enrollees both BHCPF/KECHES has accessed services in the facility.
She said “Our service goes beyond closing hours and drugs are always sufficient in the pharmacy. In fact, in some cases of outside patients are treated because we have Drug Revolving Funds.
Similarly, in PHC Augie Local Government area the officer in charge (OiC) Rilwanu Adamu disclosed that before the advent of KECHEMA, the hospital was in moribund.
‘’We ran only three tests in the laboratory but now that facility had been upgraded, we can deliver about seven tests which are being conducted in the laboratory.
‘’We have also recruited a night watchman; this provides us the opportunity to render services at the PHC.
In Kebbi South senatorial district composing Yauri and Zuru emirates, it was observed that the level of awareness on the scheme is highly appreciable as people troops in day and night to access free medical services in those designated facilities.
‘’The type of qualitative drugs stocked in their respective pharmacies is something to talk about. Available records revealed that Zuru Primary Healthcare centre which registered 2,831 early this year had recorded 69,590 access to medical services by the enrollees of both BHCPF/KECHES.
‘’If these facilities can render services with this intervention from NHIS/enrollees of KECHES what happens if the formal sector now keys in the programme their pool of funds would be released, thus assisting the ordinary man to enjoy free medical care,’’ Jajirma said.
Meanwhile, Dr Jafar Augie Mohammed acknowledged the effort of KECHES media team and commended them for upright reportage both in the electronic, print and new media which had helped in creating more awareness to the general public on the activities of the Agency.
He observed there are minor complaints challenges in some facilities but assured that the management will overcome them.
He explained that the scheme is just one year old, certainly, there might be hurdles here and there, and the most important is for the formal sector to join the scheme.
Dr Jafar further revealed that management will soon mount an enlightenment campaign on the activities of KECHEMA through talk shows on electronic media and billboards across the state.
According to him, Kebbi State is the only state that charges 4,800 premiums per annum which is affordable to all citizens of the State.
Already the informal sector had commenced early this year with only eleven associations that keyed in the recalled giant stride of late Ubandoman Gwandu Halidu Sa’ad who set up Birnin Kebbi Development Association and sourced funds of 442.4m to pay for vulnerable persons.
His Royal Highness the Emir of Gwandu also made a donation of 44.6m for his subjects. Emir of Argungu Alhaji Sama’ila Muhammad Mera paid for 10 people each in 29 districts in his emirate amounting to N1.5 million.