The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Monday in Abuja, inaugurated a ministerial committee that will develop a framework for the provision of health insurance for retirees and the elderly in Nigeria.
He said it was part of the present administration’s commitment to improve access to healthcare in the country.
He added that “it underscores the resolve and commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to promote the wellbeing of ageing citizens through provision of health insurance.
“The President subscribes to the view that elders who have served the country be treated with respect and dignity.
“The President commits to investing in older persons in recognition of the contributions they continue to make to family, communities and the nation.
“This aligns with global best practices in healthcare for older persons.”
According to him, older persons with intergeneration links are a force for socio-economic growth with institutional memory and experience to shepherd youths and advise on growth opportunities.
He said that health and wellbeing were crucial to older persons’ autonomy and critical to maintaining inclusion and participation in community affairs.
Ehanire commended the collaborative efforts of the ministry and that of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in ensuring timely and successful inauguration of the committee.
The minister noted that “I shall inaugurate this committee, as part of Mr President’s commitment to improving the quality of care of the elderly, through provision of health insurance, with the following Terms of Reference (TOR).
“The committee is to assess the current situation of health insurance coverage and access to healthcare for retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria.
“It is to develop a National Framework for effective Health Insurance Coverage for retirees and senior citizens and undertake any other activity that will facilitate the Health Insurance Coverage.”
He announced Linus Awute, a seasoned officer, now retired former Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health as chairman of the committee.
Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary of NHIS, said that the agency had the opportunity to develop the package, to ensure that every Nigerian accessed quality healthcare.
He said, “NHIS has developed Insurance Under One Roof to cover all Nigerians, in which the elderly are also part of; it is important to focus on this segment of the population who served this country diligently.
“The committee is to work out modalities for the package because the retirees are going to be in different forms; we have retirees at the federal, state and the local government level, as well as in the private sector.
“Also, the elderly are categorised into those who can pay premium and continue to enjoy services and those who have no capacity to pay for the services. All these factors have to be considered while designing a package for the retirees and the elderly.”
In his acceptance speech, the Chairman of the Committee, Awute thanked government for giving him the opportunity to serve and promised to justify the confidence reposed in him and members.