The Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Dr. ‘Femi Thomas, has said that only 2.8 per cent of Nigerians have subscribed to the initiative. Thomas stated this at a conference organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the NHIS in Lagos on Tuesday. According to Thomas, there is the need to do more to increase the popularity of the scheme in the country. He noted that while other countries, which started after Nigeria, had achieved over 30- per cent coverage, the country was still battling to capture about three per cent of its population. He, however, noted the less than three per cent subscribers belonged to the formal sector.

Thomas identified social cultural belief, which frowns at preparing for health emergencies as a factor militating against the acceptance of the scheme in the informal sector. He said, “ We cannot deny the effects of our religious doctrines on the way we prepare for emergencies, especially health emergencies and we all know that health insurance scheme is all about preparing for the unseen.“We need to redefine health insurance approach, especially in making our advocacy simpler for the informal sector to understand.

The President, LCCI, Alhaji Remi Bello, who also lamented the poor level of investment in the health sector, noted that the conference was to enable stakeholders to plan proper health insurance scheme for the poor. He added, “It is disheartening that the health sector seems to be receiving less than desired investment from the government, when the World Health Organisation makes us to understand that there is a direct relationship between the health system of any country, its quality of life, productivity and development.”

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