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The poor, vulnerable in FCT to enjoy free health insurance - FCTA

Mar, 2021 | By David Barau | ||

To the poor and vulnerable in rural communities of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), hope to access adequate health treatment beckons after several decades. This is because FCT Administration (FCTA) has flagged off a Pro-Poor and Vulnerable Persons Social Health Insurance programme to give free healthcare for one year to the poorest of the poor. Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who flagged off the programme last week in Gwagwalada, affirmed that the initiative was a strategy to enhance social inclusion. According to her, it was another demonstration of official efforts to bring succour and hope to the poorest of the poor and vulnerable households.

The Minister of State, who was represented by Acting Secretary, FCTA's Area Council Services Secretariat (ACSS), Mrs. Omolola Olanipekun, while commending the FCT Health Insurance Scheme (FHIS) for introducing the laudable programme, remarked that "FCT Administration cannot afford to have a healthcare system that is affordable to only a few, just as we cannot afford to have a health insurance scheme that is accessible to only a few.'' Dr Aliyu revealed that efforts are ongoing to ensure pregnant women and under-five-year-old children in the Territory are covered by the health insurance scheme ''to further expand access to good quality and timely health services to these vulnerable groups."

Earlier, Director, FHIS, Dr Ahmed Danfulani, who highlighted the significance of the programme, noted that out-of-pocket spending has landed many Nigerians into extreme poverty. He said: "More than 100 million families are pushed to extreme poverty yearly because of catastrophic expenditures and at least 20% of the world population experiences out of pocket expenses. This situation is more than 90% in Nigeria." Dr Danfulani said while the FHIS has programmes for those who can afford, it is only fair to create a programme for persons who cannot afford to pay.

His words: "We all talk about the Universal Health Coverage leaving no one behind. There are quite a lot of programmes already looking after people who can afford to pay for health insurance and take care of themselves, but there is still this bulk group of individuals in rural communities who don't have enough money to even feed themselves not to talk of having health insurance.

''Today in FCT is the beginning of a programme for this category of people. Wherever they are in the rural communities of FCT, we are going to all the nooks and crannies to ensure that the poor people that cannot afford three square meals in a day have access to at least free basic healthcare for one year.'' Dr Danfulani, who added that the Pro-Poor and Vulnerable Healthcare programme will be extended to the other Area Councils, disclosed that it was a collaboration among FHIS, FCT Primary Health Care Board, Gwagwalada Area Council and ACSS, adding that it will complement the Federal Government's Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF).

On the benefit package, The Director said an enrollee will enjoy a robust service package almost equal to the formal sector package, including an opportunity for referral to secondary healthcare facilities and major surgeries "completely free of cost." Similarly, the Director emphasized that beneficiaries where gotten through a series of consultations by relevant stakeholders in Gwagwalada Area Council. "After Gwagwalada Area Council was selected by the Secretariat, we first visited the Chairman. He was fully intimated of our intention and we got his full blessing.

All the traditional rulers in the Area Councils were visited and were all addressed in council; we got their blessings also. There was a meeting with relevant stakeholders involving Gwagwalada township clinic staff members, the market women and men, artisans, religious leaders and the youth groups in Gwagwalada." For his part, Chairman, Gwagwalada Area Council, Alhaji Mustapha Adamu Danze, who doubles as FCT Chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), commended FCTA for using Gwagwalada Area Council as pilot for the programme, insisting that it will benefit the poor and vulnerable persons. Over 700 enrollees received their identity cards at the occasion.

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Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who flagged off the programme last week in Gwagwalada, affirmed that the initiative was a strategy to enhance social inclusion.


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