A Bauchi-based media network under the aegis of Journalists for Public Health and Development (J4PD) has expressed its readiness to partner with the Bauchi State Health Contributory Management Agency (BASHCMA) to create awareness on health insurance aimed at keying into the national policy on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
This was stated by one of the Directors of J4PD, Ms Elizabeth Carr at a workshop on Media Engagement on Health Insurance organized by the USAID funded Integrated Health Program (USAID IHP).
Ms Carr said the resolve of J4PD to support BASHCMA in its drive to cover all citizens of Bauchi State under the insurance scheme was borne out of the passion J4PD has for seeing that health care services are accessible to all citizens of Bauchi State.
“Public health reportage is one of our key areas of competence. There is a need for sustaining a media campaign on health insurance in Bauchi State. Such coordinated campaigns could be targeted at beneficiaries, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the scheme.
“The media campaigns could also have a positive multiplier effect of changing negative perceptions on the part of prospective beneficiaries and also holding health care service providers and government accountable on their responsibilities”, said Ms Carr.
While enumerating some of the achievements of the J4PD, the director said that one major challenge halting the activities of the Network is centred around funding to carry out on-the-spot assessment of situations at the facilities level, especially in the primary healthcare system, which according to her “is the first point of accessing health care services”.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of BASHCMA Dr Mansur Dada, while giving an update on the implementation of the scheme in the state, said the primary function of the agency is to ensure all citizens enrolled in the scheme have access to healthcare services without having to spend out of pocket expenses.
Dr Dada said three categories of communities are the target of the scheme made up of the formal and informal sectors and the third category which form forms the bulk of potential clients, is the vulnerable group that cannot afford to pay the premium for the cover.
He said it is the government that is supposed to pay the premium for the third category and that due to competing needs of other sectors, payment for this category of potential beneficiaries is not yet achieved.
“Over 70 per cent of the population falls under the vulnerable target group that can’t afford the premium and this is a concern for us at the Agency”, said Dr Dada.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Director of USAID IHP, Dr Alhassan Siaka said only 50,000 beneficiaries of the insurance scheme are enrolled in Bauchi State, stressing that there is the need for the Media to highlight such issues in the limelight.
“Something has to be done to increase enrolment into the health insurance scheme. The media needs to put pressure on Government to increase funding for the scheme.
“Also, government and the state-organized labour need to sort out the impasse impeding the enrollment of the formal sector into the insurance scheme”, Dr Siaka said.
Our correspondent reports that during the workshop, participants drawn from electronic, print and online media, were taken through focus areas that include: the benefits of health insurance and the role of media in Bauchi State, Updates on the implementation of health insurance and activities of J4PD in the state.
The participants are also expected to visit some health facilities to have first-hand information regarding health insurance services in such centres.