Awka-When Gov. Willie Obiano came up with the brilliant idea of a health insurance policy for the state, little did he know that Ndi Anambra will fall over themselves to be associated with this policy.
Given the vehement opposition mounted by a few, who had yet to appreciate the gains inherent in the project, it could have died before taking roots in the state.
The criticisms that dogged the early stages of the policy reached fever pitch, but a stubborn Gov. Willie Obiano, knowing full well that this policy is a health revolution of sorts in the making, insisted on pushing the policy.
With massive enlightenment and concerted efforts, he pursued it and he working with the Anambra State House of Assembly pushed it through the policy to become a law in the state.
It is only now that many of the opponents of the Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) have seen the policy become operational that they now appreciate the many gains in the project.
In the past, organising medical missions from abroad used to be the vogue, with well-placed persons and communities jostling to play some relevant roles in intervening in the health of their village folks.
“But all that has not really been sustainable as this is a seasonal effort that can hardly solve the health needs of rural folks,’’ observed Nnanyelugo Dubem Okolonji, a community leader.
Dr Simeon Onyemaechi, a medical an Executive Secretary of Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA), notes with just a payment of N1, 000 monthly or N12,000 annually, folks will be entitled to access quality medical treatment from the best hospitals in the state.
According to Dr Onyemaechi, the mandate I was given along with my team is to fashion out how best to implement a medical insurance policy in line with the practice overseas and at an affordable rate.
“We patterned the policy after the National Health Insurance being already implemented at the National level and brought the cost very low to allow many buy into the policy.
“We studied the literature with which the policy operated in many countries and came up with findings that if we can register about 30,000 enrollees, the project will become sustainable.
“We had initial fears that attaining the goal will be a herculean task, especially given the opposition from a few of the worker’s unions but soon with persistent education on the project, the policy took off.
“It is really surprising today that ASHIA has not only attained the no going back 30,000 mark but now surpassed it by reaching an all-time 90,000 enrollees,’’ said Dr Onyemaechi.
The registration of civil servants in ASHIA log, soon recorded 60,000 marks and now not less than 30,000 from the informal sector in the log, the figure reached an all-time 90,000 enrollees to date.
According to Dr Onyemaechi, who doubles as Special Adviser to the Governor on public health matters says there is no doubt that this health insurance policy is the biggest gift by Gov. Obiano to Ndi Anambra.
“I know that in years to come, the Governor will be remembered for instituting the Anambra version of National Health Insurance Services,’’ he said.
He adds too: “it is not just serving those indigenous to Anambra but those resident in the state and will ultimately lead the way toward achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria’’.
The ASHIA executive secretary hailed the state Government for its continued support in backing healthcare delivery in the state through this health insurance scheme.
Dr Onyemaechi, said since the establishment of ASHIA in 2016, the agency has recorded tremendous successes in the distribution of affordable and quality healthcare services to people of the state.
“Establishment of ASHIA is geared toward enabling Ndi Anambra and other state residents to understand the importance of good and affordable healthcare for the people in an organised health system.
“I say with all modesty, due to our humble contributions to the works of the government in ASHIA, not less than eight different states — Imo, Abia, Nassarawa, Gombe, Akwa Ibom, Plateau, Enugu and Ebonyi have come to understudy the operations of ASHIA and have already started implementation of same model in their respective states.
“This also offers opportunities for the wealthy citizens of Anambra to enroll people from their communities into the scheme.
“The model makes it possible to carry everyone along and not just civil servants, the wealthy people and those in the informal sector.
“It enables the wealthy, the poor, sick, healthy infants and old to enjoy affordable and quality healthcare services.’’
Dr Onyemaechi said that the sustainability of the System is assured as ASHIA was now backed by Anambra State law.
“The law shields ASHIA from the effects of a change in political leadership of the state, as it provides for mandatory health insurance cover for all residents of Anambra State.’’
A lecturer in the Department of Industrial Chemistry, Anambra State University, Dr Joe Nwadiogbu hailed the policy, saying he was a direct beneficiary of the policy through his wife’s ASHIA policy.
“Now that I know that the policy targets even the private sector, I will extend it to staff members of a company that associate with.’’
Source: Anambra State Government