Home News Oyo Health Insurance In COVID-19 Era | Bola Okanlawon

Oyo Health Insurance In COVID-19 Era | Bola Okanlawon


It is obvious that the coronavirus pandemic has not only rattled almost the whole world, but has also, exposed the weakness and limitations of Nigeria’s healthcare service delivery, in particular. Government at all levels is grappling with the realities of the day by initiating various innovations intended to curtail the virulence of the virus.

As if it had a premonition of the ravaging virus, the Oyo State Government, in its calculated desire to provide access to sound and reliable healthcare delivery to the citizens, on August 18, 2015, established the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency, backed by an enabling law, making health insurance mandatory for every resident of the state.

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Aware of the importance of health in the lives of the citizens, more so, when health is wealth, the government designed the scheme to provide financial risk protection against huge medical bills, reduce out-of-pocket expenditure on health care services for the residents as well as provide solidarity between the sick and the healthy, the poor and the rich, the employed and unemployed, young and old.

It was an American senator, Bernie Sanders, who noted that, “if you have somebody who doesn’t have health insurance, who doesn’t have a doctor, such a person goes to an emergency room which costs 10 times more than walking into a community health centre”. In a similar vein, Elizabeth Warren, another American senator noted that, “it is not good not to have health insurance because that leaves the family very vulnerable”.  Sadly, statistics show that those who have health insurance in Nigeria are about five per cent of the national population, and this is limited to the formal sector.

Perhaps, it is against this background that Governor Seyi Makinde has invigorated the OYSHIA with an uncommon political will and availability of funds, urging the agency to ensure that a majority of the residents are enrolled in the scheme. Headed by Dr. Augustus Olusola Akande, the OYSHIA, which embarked on the mandate with a missionary zeal, recently handed ALGON Comprehensive Health centre, Ehin Grammar, Molete and Aafin Primary Health Centre, Basorun Oyo, the ninth renovated Primary Health Centre to the governor for inauguration, a feat that is unprecedented in the history of the state’s primary healthcare. Altogether, in one year, three facilities were renovated and equipped by OYSHIA with the support of the state governor. So far, Bashorun Primary Health Centre, Orita Aperin, Agbongbon, Ojoo, Ajibode, Oranyan have all been renovated. The agency has also successfully enrolled over 200,000 residents,  including civil servants, the Organised Private Sector, informal sector, as well as created enrolment centres in all the 33 local government areas of the state. It has equally employed 33 medical doctors on the scheme, just as it has engaged seven Health Maintenance Organisations, all towards ensuring the good health of the people at a cheaper rate. On a weekly basis, the head of the agency, Dr. Akande, is on seven electronic media organisations, educating and enlightening the residents about the scheme and the importance of health and health insurance.

However, not having health insurance not only destroys one’s life, it also destroys one’s fiscal life. To avoid this calamity, therefore, this is why OYSHIA is established to limit the rise in the cost of healthcare services, and ensure that the poor and vulnerable are guaranteed basic minimum package as defined under the National Health Act. The agency is also mandated to ensure equitable distribution of healthcare costs across different income groups,  as well as to maintain high standard of healthcare delivery services within the health sector.

The question is, will the residents of Oyo State take advantage of this laudable initiative? It is in their interest to embrace the idea. It is true that many people are in straitened circumstances, struggling to make ends meet but their health should be prioritised. Interestingly, this health insurance seems to have facilitated access to the much-needed health care services. People need to buy into this initiative as there is nothing more important than our good health. Health is our principal capital asset. With good health, people are bound to flourish. Only investment in health insurance can make life much more bearable and meaningful.

In this COVID-19 era, no investment towards good health should be considered too much as once there is life, there is hope. Oyo State residents should not hesitate to enrol in this health insurance scheme as this is the only way to appreciate the efforts of the governor in the health sector. Good enough, government has substantially subsidised the costs, what is left is for the people to buy into the scheme. One just hopes that people will see the need.

Bola Okanlawon,  Head of Media and Publicity, OYSHIA, Ibadan

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