The management of the Nigeria Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) yesterday entered into an agreement with four institutions in the country for the training and capacity development of its staff and other health practitioners in the health insurance ecosystem.
Director General of the Nigeria Health Insurance Authority Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo who signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the partner for the training program – Result for Development and representatives of the universities – said the initiative was intended to further improve the capacity and efficient delivery of health insurance services in the country.
”We found out from the onset of this management of NHIA that there is limited capacity in health in Nigeria. So we decided that there is a need to have a concrete arrangement for building human capacity development in the health insurance ecosystem.
“To this end, we are partnering with the Result for Development group (R4D) with sponsorship from the Bill and Milinder Gates Foundation to package what we called the NHIA Leadership Development programme,” he said.
He said the leadership development programme was going to be implemented in collaboration with four institutions, Pan African University, Lagos, Educational Resource Development Centre, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Sambo said the NHIA had developed a very comprehensive protocol for the training and enhancement of the capacity of the staff and other health insurance practitioners in the country.
“So today we are signing a Memoradum of understanding with four institutions for a three- year leadership training programme lasting over two to three-year duration,” he said.
On the coverage level of the training, Sambo said: ” We are expecting that as many as the people in the health insurance ecosystem will benefit. In fact, we have already started the training and all the managers of the NHIA are being trained at the Lagos Business School and all the state coordinators of health insurance scheme have been trained. In the same vein, all the Chief Executives of the state health insurance authorities have also been trained.
‘We are doing a cascade of training, so that from the middle level cadre to the top level cadre in all all health insurance organisations will benefit from the capacity development programme. We are thinking of establishing what we call Health Insurance Institute where all the human resource developed so far will be put together fo ensure sustainability,” he said.
Mohammed said the leadership development programme was a stop gap arrangement meant to serve the immediate training needs in the health insurance sector.
The DG further explained that the MoU is for 2-3 years and is renewable pending the establishment of an institute to take on the studies.
According to the terms of the MoU, while NHIA is expected to foot 25 percent of the cost of the program, the partner, R4D will provide 75 percent of the cost.
The Country Representative of the Result for Development group, Dr. Hope Uweja said the objective of the MoU is to provide technical assistance to the NHIA, and enhance the knowledge and capacity of its staff to be able to achieve universal health coverage for Nigeria.
Also in his speech, Dr. Francis Ukwujie who represented the Country Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the body sees as a critical element of the initiative, the ability to provide knowledge to those who are in charge of implementing the health insurance program in Nigeria.
He said that WHO would continue to partner with the NHIA and provide assistance just as it does in other parts of the world.
In his remark, a Professor of Health Policy Systems from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Benjamin Uzochukwu spoke of the need to take steps to institutionalize the capacity-building programme and to widen the collaboration to involve other stake stakeholders in the health sector such as the West African College of Physicians.
On her part, the Director of Health Enterprise Development Centre at the Pan African University, Lagos, Nneka Okekearu said capacity development will no doubt deepen the ongoing reform and transformation in the country’s health insurance scheme and subsequently help in the attainment of the much desired universal health coverage for the nation.