By Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Federal Government has rolled out a health insurance package aimed at retirees and the elderly in society.
The insurance package, which will be implemented through the platform of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), was designed to ensure that proper health care services are extended to people who have served Nigeria both in public and private sectors and are retired.
Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire inaugurated a committee in Abuja on Monday that is charged with the responsibility of designing the implementation pattern of the package to ensure that the desired objective is achieved.
He said the insurance package underscores the resolve and commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to improve access to healthcare and promote the wellbeing of ageing citizens through the provision of health insurance.
Dr Osagie, however, told the committee members that their terms of reference include assessing the current situation of health insurance coverage and access to health care for retirees and senior citizens of over 60 years in Nigeria.
The committee is expected to also develop a framework for effective health insurance coverage for retirees and senior citizens, make recommendations on the potential resource mobilization, as well as other mechanisms for the successful implementation of the framework, among others.
The Minister said: ‘The elderly and retirees of 60 years and above, make up 15 million (6 to 7%) of Nigeria’s population, which is the size of some countries in Africa or elsewhere in the world.
‘They may be facing glaring health challenges over and beyond the wear and year of ageing, and additional strain from financial challenges and psycho-social issues of adjusting to a retiree’s life. Sooner or later, problems of cognition set in slowly, hence the need for intervention that could bring help to them.’
He granted the committee the liberty to engage public institutions, private organisations, national and international NGOs, who have bearing on the subject matter to join in actualizing the commitment of improving the care of our elderly population.
Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof Nasiru Sambo, in his remarks, explained that the new package will function alongside other insurance packages purposely to provide affordable health care services for the people.
He was optimistic that the new package would provide an opportunity for people who have served Nigeria in different capacities to get good health care services that would help keep them healthy and elongate their life
Chairman of the Committee, Linus Awute, in his remarks, thanked the Federal Government for the trust and confidence in him, assuring that the committee will justify the confidence by delivering the mandate.