- By Akinwumi Taiwo Olufunke
The Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, in collaboration with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) recently held a one-day sensitization workshop for NHIS desk officers in all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with the theme: Benefit package for Public/Civil Servants under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The OHCSF collaboration with NHIS shows the concern of the present administration for improved welfare of civil servants by ensuring that they have access to top-notch service delivery from health care providers.
In her opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe, represented by the Director Occupational Health, Safety and Environment Mrs Titilayo Agbeyo thanked the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo and his team for accepting to collaborate with the OHCSF in sensitizing desk officers on necessary information needed in the implementation of the scheme.
She added that the central objective of the NHIS is to ensure that the health status of Civil servant is improved.
Dr. Onwudiwe noted that the NHIS is one of the welfare packages designed to enable all civil servants and their families have access to medical facilities at minimal cost.
She said the OHCSF is complementing the efforts of NHIS, by taking up responsibility of medical assistance and welfare package of civil servants in line with Public Service Rule (PSR) 070201 for ailments that are not covered by the NHIS.
“It is therefore important that the NHIS desk officers are well informed and upgraded on reviewed time lines on developed programmes and packages by the NHIS to guide them in discharging their duties” she stated.
She further said the one-day sensitisation programme will further provide participants with the necessary information on the implementation of the scheme to enhance their knowledge and take advantage of available packages to improve their health status.
It will also equip the desk officers with the requisite skill needed to effectively deliver on their schedule. Questions asked will address some gaps in the implementation of the scheme.
In his goodwill message, the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, represented by the General Manager, Formal Sector Department, in NHIS Dr. Eke Jonathan said that the mandate of NHIS is to achieve universal health coverage for all Nigerians but over the years the scheme has been bedevilled with a lot of challenges.
He noted that the NHIS law was the last thing the then President General Abdulsalam Abubakar signed into law on May 29th 1999. He also added that President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005 launched the formal sector project to ensure that every enrolee on the NHIS scheme gets access to adequate health care.
“Over the years we realised that it will be difficult to get everyone covered on the NHIS scheme because the Act doesn’t make it mandatory for everyone to enrol and poverty is also another factor…but the agency is working to correct this anomaly”, he added.
Sambo said that the agency had introduced some reforms to change the narrative. One of which if GIFSHIP health insurance taken up or paid for by individuals, families and groups not covered by the NHIS.
Three papers were presented at the workshop:
Overview of the NHIS Formal Sector Programmes
NHIS Benefits Package
Enrolee Rights and Privileges
In her vote of thanks, the Deputy Director Health Safety and Environment in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Deborah Odoh noted that the workshop was an eye-opener to some of the hitches faced by desk officers and civil servants, while thanking participants for sharing their thoughts. She hoped that the workshop had enlightened MDAs on the need to support the NHIS.
*Akinwumi Taiwo Olufunke is of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation .