Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala says the introduction of Mobile Health Insurance in the State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA), is a new dawn that will guarantee effective healthcare financing in the state.
Okpala said this while declaring open, a Pre-testing programme and Training on the Use of Mobile Technology for Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) staff members and Healthcare providers at the Prof Kenneth Dike State Library Auditorium, Awka on Wednesday.
The mobile health insurance, which was developed with the full support of the European Union (UN) and World Health Organisation (WHO), enables people to enrol into the health insurance scheme using either their phone numbers or mobile application without stress.
The initiative is in response to the challenge of the inability of citizens especially those in the hinterlands, to enrol in the scheme, due to lack of access to the agency and its operational systems.
The commissioner observed that in most developing countries, health financing has been a major challenge, adding that the vision of the State Governor, Willie Obiano in instituting the ASHIA, speaks volume of his commitment to giving Anambrarian quality healthcare at an affordable cost.
According to him, the governor is carefully addressing the critical issues that had over the years bedevilled access to quality healthcare in the state.
“As a state, we have conducted a deep research and underscored the fact that for healthcare to work, we have to focus on six basic building blocks. They include Service delivery, Information & Human resources, Financing, Leadership and Governance, Medicine and Technologies. The most important is health financing and that is where the ASHIA proves to be instrumental. It is most heartwarming that our people are beginning to take advantage of this initiative and fending for their health needs,” he said.
Okpala extolled the innovation brought to bear in driving the Health Insurance initiative in the state by the Executive Secretary of ASHIA, Dr Simeon Onyemaechi and expressed the hope that at the pace the Scheme is moving, it will achieve its purpose in terms of health coverage.
“I believe the governor is happy he engaged health economist to head the agency. He is not just a health economist but somebody that is a field man who wants to get things done and still reports it at healthcare and health financing. That is why we have ASHIA with its accolades and now it has got to a new page with mobile health insurance.’’
Executive Secretary ASHIA, Dr Simeon Onyemaechi, explained that the mobile Insurance was introduced to enable more persons to be adopted into the scheme by men and women of goodwill in the society.
He revealed that corporate organizations in search of an objective avenue for corporate social responsibility could also enrol the less privileged into the scheme using the Mobile Adoption platform.
Dr Onyemaechi, who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, also said with the collaboration of the National Social Safety Coordinating Office of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the agency had enumerated the vulnerable members of our community using the World Bank community-based approach.
“The list that has been uploaded on the platform is for your use as an adopter to pay a premium for those persons who ordinarily cannot do it for themselves. The platform also enables people to pay their ASHIA premium in instalments using an electronic wallet system that would save the contributions until the required amount is completed.
“This is a major revolution in the Health Insurance business in Nigeria for which we are grateful to the EU and WHO for making it a reality,” the ASHIA boss said.