DG Nominee Ensures Broad Health Coverage for Nigerians



Kelechi Ohiri, President Bola Tinubu’s nominee for the Director-General of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), has pledged to increase the number of Nigerians covered by health insurance. Currently, less than 7% of Nigerians are protected and covered by health insurance, a figure that has remained under 10% since the NHIA’s inception. Ohiri identified issues with the policy framework, a lack of awareness and trust as reasons for the low numbers and stated that the recent mandate making health insurance compulsory could drive improvements.

Kelechi Ohiri Pledges to Increase Health Insurance Coverage in Nigeria

Kelechi Ohiri, President Bola Tinubu’s nominee for the Director-General of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), has pledged to expand health insurance coverage for Nigerians. His commitment was made during his screening by the Senate Committee on Health at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

During the presentation, Ohiri admitted the low rate of Nigerians with financial protection from healthcare costs. He quoted statistics showing that less than seven percent of the population are protected and covered, a figure that’s been under 10 percent since inception. He stressed the need for improvement to achieve universal healthcare coverage in Nigeria.

Ohiri cited multiple reasons for the low coverage rates, including policy framework, lack of awareness, and trust issues. He noted that health insurance, previously voluntary, has become mandatory with the 2022 NHIA Act. He emphasized that this mandate is crucial in expanding and improving coverage.

Acknowledging the limited awareness about health insurance in Nigeria, Ohiri emphasized the need for education and outreach. He noted that around 70 percent of Nigerians pay for healthcare out-of-pocket, leaving them exposed to financial shocks from rising healthcare costs. He proposed that increasing inclusion under health insurance would boost coverage.

Ohiri also addressed the financial challenges faced by Nigerians unable to afford insurance premiums. He highlighted interventions such as the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and the Vulnerable Group Fund as key tools in increasing health insurance coverage.

During the screening, Senator Banigo Ipalibo, the committee chairperson, sought Ohiri’s plan to ascertain exact coverage figures for both formal and informal sectors. She emphasized the importance of health insurance in reducing citizens’ out-of-pocket expenses. Ipalibo also urged Ohiri to ensure effective utilization of the Vulnerable Group Fund, particularly for children under five, pregnant women, and the elderly over 60.

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