Nigerian government moves to provide health insurance for retirees, elderly

The Nigerian Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, on Monday inaugurated a committee on the provision of health insurance for retirees and the elderly in society.

The event was organised by the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.

The Ministry of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Osagie Ehanire, who addressed the press, noted that Nigeria is a signatory to many global commitments on health, especially the pursuit of Universal Health Coverage for healthier lives and wellbeing of citizens of all ages.

He said this is in accordance with the President’s vision to “Leave No One Behind” in pursuit of health-related Sustainable Development Goals.

The Minister noted that the Elderly and Retirees of 60 years and above, make up 6 to 7%, being 15 million out of Nigeria’s population, and the size of some countries.

The elderly may be facing glaring health challenges, over and beyond the wear and tear of ageing and the additional strain from financial challenges and psycho-social issues of adjusting to a Retiree’s life. Sooner than later, problems of cognition sets in.

According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it obvious that about 60–80% of older persons have pre-existing medical conditions requiring regular medications.

He pointed out that for such persons to depend solely on a pension allowance that is barely enough to meet basic household needs, they experience an extra burden that defeats the essence of pension and may fall into depression.

“We are here today 30th November 2020 for an activity that could bring help to the elderly in our society and it is to inaugurate members of a Ministerial Committee to examine options for the provision of Health Insurance for Retirees and the Elderly in Nigeria.

“It underscores the resolve and commitment of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to improve access to healthcare and promote the wellbeing of ageing citizens of our country through the provision of health insurance.

“The President subscribes to the view that Elders who have served their country be treated with respect and dignity and commits to investing in older persons in recognition of the contribution they continue to make to family, community and nation. This aligns with global best practices in health care for older persons.

“Older persons with intergeneration links are a force for socio-economic growth with institutional memory and experience to shepherd Youths and advise on growth opportunities. Health and Wellbeing are crucial to older persons’ independence and autonomy and critical to maintaining inclusion and participation in community affairs.

“I wish to commend the collaborative efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Scheme in ensuring a timely and successful inauguration of the committee. This event is not without the support of development partners and relevant stakeholders.”

The committee was tasked to assess the current situation of health Insurance coverage and access to health care for retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria, develop a National Framework for the effective Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens; make recommendations to the Honorable Minister of Health on the potential resource mobilization as well as other mechanisms for the successful implementation of the framework; undertake any other activity that will facilitate the Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens in Nigeria.

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