By Elijah Ugani
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade on Monday flagged off the State Health Insurance Scheme tagged “Ayadecare” at a ceremony in Calabar, the state capital organized to mark the 2018 children’s day.
This comes 20 months after he signed into law, the bill to establish the insurance scheme as well as several postponements to the kickoff of the scheme.
Explaining why the children’s day was preferred, Mr Ayade said that it was an act to reemphasize the place of children in the society and stressed that the welfare of the people is the purpose of governance, even as he siught the support of relevant authorities to ensure sustainability and efficiency of the scheme.
“We have decided to launch this scheme today to reemphasize the place of our children and to celebrate you our children, I call on the NHIS to go back with the message that the people of Cross River State are very committed to the health of our people, I want our children to have access to healthcare, please take this massage to the President and tell him that, the people of cross river state are fully in support of his administration, we are not doing this because of politics, if it was politics, we will not have done it on children day because children don’t vote during election.”
He averred that the scheme was a “clear indication that the state is in the right path to ensuring prosperity and better health services for the people. Our children must have access to the scheme and the launch of the program on Children’s Day is to celebrate the children who are leaders of tomorrow. ”
The governor who maintained that the scheme will aid the state achieve universal health coverage, also said that: “The state will invest heavily in the scheme to ensure quality and affordable health care services for our people.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Dr. Enyantu Ifenne commended the state government for believing in fundamental human right and taking the lead in the health insurance scheme.
“We are here because you believe in fundamental human rights, you believe that health is a fundamental human right, that every child and woman should have access to affordable health care, you are one among 14 states, but you are ahead of them, you want to make sure that no child in cross river state is shut out.
“Since the launch of National Insurance Scheme, only about 3 percent of the total population is covered, and that is not acceptable, we hope to work with state governors to reach a good number of people. Cross River State will be a model for us to copy, let me congratulate the leadership and people of the state, you have gone beyond policy to practice in less than 20 months,” said Dr. Eyantu.
The scheme was introduced to “reduce the cost of health management,” said the Special Adviser to Mr. Ayade on insurance, Mr. Godwin Iyala. According to him, an average family in Cross River spends at least NGN25,000 monthly on health and maintained that the state is determined to ensure effective health governance, affordable and quality healthcare.
The Health Commissioner and 2017 CrossRiverWatch Man Of The Year, Dr. Inyang Asibong said the launch was a fulfillment of three years of work and explained that: “With a token amount monthly, you will access health care. Our facilities are accredited, ready, revitalized, functional and ready for use. The scheme will attract more resources to the health sector, increase access and utilisation of healthcare services and put the state on the part to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030.”
To ensure it is rolled out across the state, Asibong said that: “The state has mapped out 1 Primary Health Care per ward, 18 General and private hospitals, one in each local government area, three referral hospitals are under construction and three mobile hospitals will be provided.”
Also, the Director General of the state’s Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Betta Edu said that the scheme will really impact on the rural areas as “less than five percent of Cross Riverians have access to health care,” adding that: “It will enhance quality and affordable healthcare.”
The bill for the establishment of the bill was passed on the floor of the House of Assembly in September 2016. And, the Speaker, Honorable John Lebo (PDP Abi) said it has three legislative frameworks; “The policy framework, institutional government framework and financial framework and we had three supporting bills, the Primary Health Care Development Agency bill, the hawkers bill to cover vulnerable children in the street and the tax exemption bill. The Health Insurance Scheme bill becomes the kinetic crystallization to crystallize other bills.”
Mr. Ayade and his wife who were enrolled into the scheme and their cards issued immediately donated NGN200 million on behalf of the state, NGN50 million on behalf of his family and commended federal and state lawmakers for offering to subscribe for 500 persons in each of their political wards, while noting that the scheme will take care of the very poor in the society.
CrossRiverWatch‘s Jonathan Ugbal contributed to this report.
NB: The Headline was edited with the word “been” replaced with “being.”
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