President Muhammadu Buhari announced at the signing of a universal health coverage law that Nigeria aims to establish a healthcare fund to cover up to 83 million poor people who cannot afford insurance charges.
Nigeria, with a population of 200 million, is striving to modernise its healthcare to enhance the sector, but low budget and the COVID-19 pandemic have strained its inadequate workforce.
The West African nation has fewer doctors per 1,000 inhabitants than the global average of 1.8, according to the most recent data from the World Bank. It also has a health insurance market that has failed to attract new members.
According to a statement from his office, Buhari on Thursday signed into law the National Health Insurance Authority Bill, which aims to offer universal healthcare access.
Analysts have questioned the source of funding for the new law. Nigeria has struggled to cover its massive budget deficit due to soaring spending on imported gasoline subsidies and debt servicing, which consume the majority of government earnings.
“A fund will be established for the enormous number of needy individuals who cannot afford health insurance premiums,” added Buhari.
Buhari said that the fund will include a basic healthcare provision fund, a health insurance tax, a special intervention fund, and any investment proceeds, donations, and gifts to the health authority.
In the face of rising insecurity, Africa’s most populous nation faces a contracting labour market, double-digit inflation, and sluggish economic growth. Until now, schemes have been funded mostly through payments from millions of government employees and employees of large corporations.
Analysts note, however, that there remain unexplored prospects in the informal sector, with the schemes needing to overcome obstacles linked with healthcare pricing and reimbursements to hospitals and patients in order to generate a profit.