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FG launches health insurance package for Abuja disabled community

  • Says disabilities are not liabilities, but for development

The Federal Government, through the National Health Insurance, NHIS, yesterday launched a community-based health insurance for disabled community, otherwise known as Disabled Colony at Karonmajiji, along Airport Road, Abuja.

The colony which has over 6,000 residents, has been in existence since early 2000 when they were assembled from across the nation’s capital and located in the community.

Bereft of basic infrastructures and means for decent living for years, the community began to have a taste of public sympathy and government presence in recent years.

Launching the Community-Based Health Insurance Programme, CBSHIP, for the community, in conjunction with a non-governmental organization, Bell Echo Initiative, Executive-Secretary of the scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, said the programme became imperative, following the scheme’s determination to ensure more vulnerable groups in the country are enrolled into the scheme.

Represented by General Manager, Formal Sector of the institution, Dr. Emmanuel Ifeanyi, Yusuf said the scheme had continued to initiative new programmes towards achieving Presidential mandate of ensuring all citizens of the country are covered under the scheme by 2025.

“This is the first time NHIS is flagging off a community-based health insurance programme for disabled people…This is a landmark event in the history of the scheme,” Yusuf said.

He added: “One of our key mandates as an organization is the Presidential mandate to cover all Nigerians by the year 2025. We are confident very strongly that this target is achievable, especially with the increased public confidence in our programme as shown in the overwhelming request for partnership and support from stakeholders across the country.”

He said within 10 years of the commencement of the formal sector social health insurance scheme for employees of the Federal Government, a large number of Nigerians had been covered.

He went on: “We believe strongly that CBSHIP is going to result in rapid uptake of enrollees. This is the programme for every Nigerian who is not covered under any other programme of NHIS. This is the programme for legal residents in the country, this is a programme for foreigners, beautiful Nigerians. This is a programme we have designed for political office holders…”

Slovic Government, through its Ambassador to Nigeria, Peter Olessey, donated N1.8 million as payment for 1000 people in the community. The donation covers 12 months for each of the beneficiaries under the scheme.

Secretary to the Colony, Muhammed Dantani said: “We are very happy today. This programme has been on for good two years. We have been working on way to see that our people have easy and affordable way to have good primary health care. We then partnered with the NHIS to see how this programme will be commissioned. We thank God that today we are commissioning this programme for our people.

“We thank the Slovak Republic that gave us N1.8 million for 1000 people. In the community here, we are more than 1000 people, the physicially-challenged people alone are more than 2000. But, we are appealing to the private sector, the government and the well-to-do individuals to see that this programme is sustained.”

Dantani, who is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Karonmajiji Health Insurance Scheme, said with the launch, there were clearer signs that people and government in the country were beginning to show desired attention to the plights of persons with disability in the country.

Similarly, FCT Coordinator for the scheme, Barr. Blessing Nzenge said of the launch: “The highlight of this programme is for disabled, but it also covers the abled people. The greater number is for the disabled. That is why it is named the Disabled Health Insurance Programme in Karonmajiji. We have abled people, surprisingly; some of them are from the same family. In some families, you have abled and disabled. So, it covers everybody within the family.”

She said the scheme was targeting everybody in the community, as many as meets the NHIS CBSHIP enrolment.

She explained that the facility to be used for the programme is within the community. “For that reason, we ensure the registered facility was within and it is not so difficult. We have also tried to put some touches on it.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, Dr Samuel Ankeli, said persons with disability in the country were not liabilities to the nation but tools for development.

According to him, the Federal Government is working to “correct the mistakes of the past” against persons with disabilities in the country. He assured that government would like comfortable for them and ensure equity with their able counterparts.

His words: “I want to re-emphasize the vision of the President to making Nigeria more disability-friendly nation than he met it. Mistakes have been made in the past, it is our duty as a responsible leadership to correct these mistakes. There are three levels in the health sector that have to do with disability. The first is to prevent, that is why we are talking about polio plus, the polio vaccination and all that to curb the disability that we go through in this nation.

“The next is to cure, to treat. That is a relative approach. And, it is our responsibility to see how we can make things accessible in the health system for people with disability. The last is to manage the trauma that associates with disabilities. We are discussing this with other partners across the globe to see how we can do it.

“I want Nigerians to know that time has come for us to work together. The issues of disability are very critical. Every home in Nigeria is affected. To pretend that disability is somebody else’s problem is wrong. We’ve got to put our heads together, work together as a nation, ministries, departments and agencies, as non-governmental organizations, business and partners, we need to work together to achieve one common goal which is to convince the nation that disability is not a challenge, but an opportunity for development.

“I am convinced that every person with disability has potential for greatness. So, the perception we have negatively about people with disability is totally wrong. It is my duty and responsibility to challenge every Nigerian no matter how highly placed, no matter what you do in your local government or villages, there is something you can do to change the lives of persons with disability.

“We want to let you know that we are beginning from somewhere. Time will come when we will occupy seats as governors, senators, as Presidents or SGF. We are able to do that which will give us these opportunities. We are getting there. Health is wealth. ..

“It is time now for us to create access to health. We have to be more inclusive in our health system in Nigeria, and this government is focused on that. We want to see health by increasing health infrastructure, we want to increase access to information on health, access to medicines and of course, access to finance.

“Poverty is a great challenge to people with disability. We’ve got to do something about it as a nation. I want to us to support the President to achieve this, and consequently improve the lives of people with disability.”

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