BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, Abuja
In accordance with the federal government’s vision to “Leave No One Behind” in pursuit of health related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has inaugurated a ministerial committee on provision of health insurance for retirees and elderly in the country.
Speaking during the inauguration, yesterday in Abuja, the minister noted that the elderly and retirees of 60 years and above, make up 6 to 7 per cent being 15 million out of Nigeria’s population, and the size of some countries.
The minister acknowledged that the elderly may be facing age-related health challenges, over and beyond the wear and year of aging, and additional strain from financial challenges and psycho-social issues of adjusting to a retiree’s life.
He noted that the covd-19 pandemic has made it obvious that about 60–80 per cent of older persons have pre-existing medical conditions requiring regular medications.
According to him, these retirees depend solely on a pension allowance that is barely enough to meet basic household needs.
“We are here today 30th November 2020 for an activity that could bring help to the elderly in our society and it is to inaugurate members of a Ministerial Committee to examine options for the provision of Health Insurance for retirees and the elderly in Nigeria.
“It underscores the resolve and commitment of the federal government to improve access to healthcare and promote the wellbeing of ageing citizens through provision of health insurance.
“The President subscribes to the view that elders who have served their country be treated with respect and dignity and commits to investing in older persons in recognition of the contribution they continue to make to family, community and nation. This aligns with global best practices in health care for older persons,” he stated.
The 22-man Committee members include Mr Linus Awute, retired former Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health, as the Chairman; Prof. Muhammad Nasiru Sambo, Executive Secretary NHIS/Co- Chair.
Others are the Permanent Sec. Ministry of Humanitarian Affair, Disaster Mgt. and Social Development, Permanent Sec. Service Welfare and Pension OHCSF; Director Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health; Director General, PENCOM; Executive Secretary, PTAD; Chairman, Forum of Chairmen of Boards of Teaching Hospitals; Director/Head GASHE, FMOH; Head, Elderly Healthcare Programme, FMOH; General Manager, Formal Sector (NHIS), amongst others.
The committee is expected to “Assess the current situation of health Insurance coverage and access to health care for retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria.
“To develop a National Framework for the effective Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens. To make recommendations to the minister of Health on the potential resource mobilization as well as other mechanisms for the successful implementation of the framework.
“To undertake any other activity that will facilitate the Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens in Nigeria.”
In his response, the Committee Chairman, Linus Awute, expressed the Committee’s commitment to justify the confidence reposed on them by the government.