The ministerial committee on the provision of health insurance for the retirees and elderly in Nigeria has proposed that diaspora remittance, aviation tax, telecoms levy/ tax, petroleum subsidy reinvestment be used to fund health insurance for older people.
The Head of Technical Working Group of the committee, Dr. Eke Jonathan disclosed this at the second presentation of the committee’s report on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 in Abuja.
Jonathan added that the report highlighted the importance of providing access to health care and financial protection to older persons given the financial challenges due to their limited sources of resources.
He explained that the report further laid down robust funding options that if adopted would ensure sustainability of the programme and reduce dependence on Government already burdened by fiscal constraints in the face of increasing demands.
He listed potential revenue sources for the program to include the Basic HealthCare Provision Fund, telecoms levy tax, diaspora remittance, aviation tax, petroleum subsidy reinvestment social health insurance contributions, among others.
In response, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire informed that he inaugurated the Committee (The Ministerial Committee for the Provision of NHIS to Retirees and Elderly) on the 30th of November, 2020 with a clear Terms of Reference.
These, he said included; “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 Honorable 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”, he stated.
Ehanire informed that Nigeria was a signatory to several global initiatives and was also committed to the health and development of her citizens.
In addition, he said as a ministry, they had the mandate to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all Nigerians, therefore, the inclusion of elderly in NHIS was in accordance with their vision to attain Universal Health Coverage that is “Leaving No One Behind”.
Highlighting some of his Ministry’s effort in ensuring better Healthcare for the elderly in the country, Ehanire said, “other interventions by the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure inclusion of senior citizens were, the creation of an Elderly branch in GASHE Division of Family Health Department in 2008 to formulate Policy, guidelines and Action Plans for the health care and well-being of the older persons.
“In 2016, the Ministry created a project called Health Program for Improved Quality Care (HEPIQ-C). Both the Elderly care program and HEPIQ-C Project have worked assiduously to ensure that good health and well-being of the elderly are taken care of”.
On his part, the Chairman, Ministerial Committee for the Provision of NHIS to Retirees and Elderly, Mr. Linus Awute recalled that the committee presented a draft report on the 28th of June, 2022 and on that day, justified the setting up of the committee.
Awute added that the report was the summation of pieces of evidence they had gathered, and it was a confirmation of the fact that the national aspiration for Universal Health Coverage was indeed a reality that could be achieved.
He explained that they restricted themselves to the confines of the terms of reference and by doing so, were able to tease out the proportion of the population that represented the elderly.
He therefore informed that 5% of the total population of the country, representing about 10- 12 million were elderly people. is the proportion of our population.