The Lagos State Government says it will soon launch its health insurance scheme

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, said in Lagos on Monday that government was firming up arrangements to ensure the success of the scheme. He attributed the delay on the commencement of the scheme in the state to lack of data.

Idris said: “The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) part of the health insurance is very important. “We need to start with it, because we want to warehouse our data; we want to start keeping our data right from when we start, so that we can make improvements as we go along.

“It will not be successful if that platform is not ready, because we do not want to be using paper work. “Once it starts, data collection will be easy and periodically we assess, so that we can check progress, look at the problem areas, check disease pattern.

“These are some of the things we are missing in our environment that is why the scheme is taking so long to start.’’The commissioner said that the scheme was compulsory for every resident in the state and therefore urged the residents to subscribe.

According to him, public servants in the state will pay 25 per cent of their contributions, while the government pays 75 per cent. “Before now, we have always run free health services for health workers and members of the public.“But we realise that nothing is free; we do not have the amount of money required to run free health services.

“We require about N8 billion every year to be able to sustain it. We do not have that kind of money. “That is why at a stage everybody must contribute,’’ he said.

Idris said that the government could not fund the health sector alone due to limited resources. According to him, the government, under the health insurance scheme, will partner with the private sector to provide healthcare services to the people.

“There are basic Primary Health Care (PHC) issues we have to contend with such as nutrition, sanitation and immunisation. “Apart from that, we need to staff those healthcare facilities. It all depends on resources available to government; public private partnership is essential.

“There are some local government areas that do not have hospitals or PHCs. There are people in the private sector who are operating facilities there. “So, we are going to partner with them under the health insurance scheme where payment is guaranteed up to a particular point,’’ the commissioner said.

On lifestyle behaviour, the commisioner said that disease occurence was either behaviour or environmental related. Idris said: “If as a people we adopt positive lifestyles, we will contribute to the reduction of a lot of these diseases including cancer.

“For instance, there are risk factors associated with cancer such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, environment and immunisation. “There are some cancers caused by viruses or germs; cervical cancer is one of them. “So, we need to get children immunised for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

“Unfortunately, the HPV vaccine is expensive; key funding comes into buying vaccines and training of staff. These are areas that are not funded.

“Also, people use firewood, coal and these have smoke, they pollute the air and people will become more susceptible to respiratory infections including asthma.

“These are environmental factors that lead to health.’’ According to him, the easiest way to prevent all diseases is to enlighten and sensitise people at the PHC level.

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