From: Segun Babatunde in Bauchi
A United States Agency for International Development(USAID) funded Intergrated Health Program(IHP) has emphasised the need for a multi-sectorial partnership as well as a sustained and strategic advocacy by the media that will expedite action on the delivery of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Bauchi state.
Speaking in a keynote remarks at the opening of a two-day Media Engagement workshop on Health Insurance Program, organized by USAID IHP in Collaboration with Bauchi State Health Contributory Management Agency (BASHCMA), which held at Jamil hotel in Azare Tuesday, the State Director IHP, Dr Alhassan Siaka stressed that a lot needs to be done to improve health coverage in the state..
According to him, there are challenges in the access of health care services by majority of the people as out of the population of 5.3 million in the state, only 50,000 are currently covered.
The IHP State’ Director opined that it does not matter how much the state government invest in Primary Healthcare centers in the areas of human resource, commodities and infrastructures, if there are no citizens who can afford the health services, there is going to be a problem.
His words: “We realize that in a state like Bauchi where we have 5.3 million out of the estimates 8 million population who are classified as extremely poor,it is going to be extremely difficult for this segment of the population to continually pay for healthcare services out of their pocket”
“We thought we should bring the attention of the media to this aspect of challenges to accessing primary health care, that a lot needs to be done to improve health insurance coverage for the people of Bauchi state.There are three elements of health insurance which include formal health insurance, informal health insurance and the Vulnerable people who do not have resources to pay for their health insurance” he said
He said that something needs to be done drastically to ensure that the vulnerable population access health care services, adding that to surmount the challenge, it is going to require the state government taking the responsibility very seriously and the federal government doubling it’s efforts in that regard.
In his presentation on the benefits of Health Insurance and the Role of the Media in Bauchi State, the State IHP Health Financing Advisor, Khalid Kasimu said that in bauchi state, there is huge investment in the health sector, but only few people have access to quality health care services, a development he noted has to be changed.
He said that the role of the media as gate keepers is to influence social behaviour change communication, adding that the media is largely responsible for deciding what issues society discuss in the public.