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As part of its efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage in the State by the year 2030, the Delta State Contributory Health Commission (DSCHC) in collaboration with the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), organized a Policy Dialogue Session on “Expansion of Health Insurance Coverage in Nigeria” which was held at the DSCHC’s Head office in Asaba.

The dialogue session (which was also virtual) discussed the mechanism and financial system-ability for the achievement of the long-term vision of expanding Health Insurance Coverage in Delta State and Nigeria, relating the Delta State Model to lessons from Rwanda, Philippines, and Malaysia Health Insurance systems.

The event featured the UNICEF Chief Health Specialist, Dr. Anslem Audu; the Senior Health Specialist World Bank, Dr. Olumide Okunola; the Chief Policy Adviser to the Governor, Prof. Sylvester Monye; the Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Dr. Kingsley Emu; the Honorable Commissioner Ministry of Health, Dr. Ononye Mordi; the Honorable Commissioner Ministry of Economic Planning, Dr. Barry Gbe; Chairman of the Governing Board of Delta State Contributory Health Commission, Dr. Isaac Akpoveta; and, the DG/CEO of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission, Dr. Ben Nkechika amongst other important dignitaries.

During his presentation, Dr. Ben Nkechika, the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, said that ‘the Delta State Contributory Health Commission is the healthcare financing organization established to drive the State towards achieving universal health coverage in line with the United Nations mandate of “Health for All” by the year 2030.’

Speaking on enrolment enhancement programme to achieve its objectives, the DG/CEO, DSCHC explained that an ‘Indigent Support Programme,’ has been set up, in which extensive advocacy is done to ‘philanthropist and corporate organizations to contribute money to a pool of funds that will be used to support the poor and the indigent residents of Delta State to ensure no one is left behind in the Delta State Contributory Health Scheme. .

The Chairman, Governing Board of the DSCHC, Dr. Isaac Akpoveta gave background knowledge on the operations and achievements of the DSCHS, emphasizing the need for a better Supply-Side and Demand-Side collaboration towards a successful health insurance program implementation for the benefit of all Deltans.

The Policy Adviser to the Governor, Prof Sylvester Monye opined that ‘Health Insurance should not be optional’ but compulsory for all. He said that funds should be collected and invested to multiply the pool of funds. He also suggested making a credible financial pool that will attract the private sector and investors.

The Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Dr. Kingsley Emu mentioned that the drive of the government is to have ‘a functional primary healthcare center in every ward’ in the state. Though not optimal, efforts are being put in place to achieve this.

Dr. Anslem Audu, the Health Specialist of the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said that there is a need for ‘more sensitization of people about health insurance.’ He stated that from the development partners' point of view, the UNICEF is always ready to generate evidence and knowledge outcomes by working with the State and Local Government partners and is also ready to build the capacity of operators of the health insurance program. He assured that the UNICEF will continue to partner with the DSCHC to organize more of this type of dialogue session that will bring the health insurance scheme closer to the people so that the people will know that Universal Health Coverage is the way to go.

Also present at the event were the Chairman of the Delta State House of Assembly Committee on Health – Hon. Austin Uroye; the Chairman Hospital Management Board; Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health; the Permanent Secretary Hospital Management Board; Senior Special Assistant to His Excellency on Health Monitoring; the Country Director, PharmAccess Foundation; and, the Senior Partner and Co-Founder Health Systems Consult Limited amongst others.