D-G reflects on progress, challenges of Nigeria’s health insurance

Dr Kelechi Ohiri, the Director-General, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), reviewed the progress and challenges of Nigeria's health insurance scheme since its inception in 1999. This is because in spite of advancements, significant issues such as low coverage, uneven distribution, and persistent quality concerns continue to hinder the scheme's effectiveness. Ohiri reviewed the scheme on Friday in Abuja at the NHIA Strategic Stakeholders Engagement, in collaboration with Nigeria Universal Health Coverage Forum and Local Health System Sustainability (LHSS) Project Nigeria. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NHIA Act was signed into law on May 19, 2022, repealing the National Health Insurance Scheme Act of 2004 which addresses some of the challenges of the old law, by providing for mandatory health insurance and establishing the Vulnerable Group Fund. It also transforms the NHIA into a promoter, integrator and regulator of all health insurance schemes in Nigeria. The review of the NH IA by the director-general is, therefore, in line with the desired goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria with the theme 'The NHIA Act: Two Years After - Reflections and Future Direction.' The review was to reflect on the past, assess the present situation and share a common vision for the future of health insurance in the country. Ohiri, therefore, underscored the transformative shift introduced by the NHIA Act, which mandates health insurance for all Nigerians, establishes state-specific schemes, creates a vulnerable group fund, and enhances the NHIA's regulatory functions. See also Maternal health photo exhibition begins in Abuja He pointed out that while 62 per cent of the formal public and private sectors are covered, the large informal sector lags with only one per cent coverage. He said that expanding healthcare access to the informal sector and vulnerable populations remain a critical objective. He explained that going forward, NHIA's vision to achieve universal health cove rage would focus on enforcing mandatory insurance, increasing public awareness and trust in the system, improving quality standards and market efficiency, as well as operationalise funds dedicated to vulnerable groups. He reiterated NHIA's commitment to transparency, setting robust standards and regulating the fragmented health insurance landscape. He, however, noted that achieving these goals require collective efforts from stakeholders. He called for regular hosting of interactive stakeholder sessions, saying 'we must come together routinely to address challenges in Nigeria's health insurance landscape through consistent dialogue and collaboration.' Dr Bolanle Olusola-Faleye, the Chief of Party, LHSS, said it was an opportunity for essential investments in Nigeria's Health Sector Renewal Initiative, particularly on financial risk protection for the poor and vulnerable. The NHIA strategic stakeholders engagement panel discussion was moderated by Gafar Alawode, the Director of DGI Consult Limited, which featured representatives from Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), state health insurance schemes, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Alawode said that the panel aimed to foster collaboration to enhance coverage in alignment with NHIA's vision for health insurance in Nigeria. Dr Francis Ukwuije, the Health Economist, WHO Nigeria, stressed the importance of prioritising data on key health insurance programme outputs, such as healthcare service usage, to support informed decision-making. See also NGO provides free medical services to FCT community Meanwhile, Dr Mustapha Lecky, the Chairman, Health System Reform Coalition of Nigeria (HSRCN), said the organisation is collaborating with other groups to achieve their mandates. Lecky said that as an umbrella of coalition, HSRCN believes in collaboration, partnerships, support, planning and strategic approach. He called for more deliberate engagements to drive advocacy and progress under the NHIA Act. Earlier on Friday at the Ministerial Sectoral Brie fing to mark the first anniversary of President Bola Tinubu's administration, Prof. Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, highlighted key achievements of NHIA. Pate said 'the NHIA is being repositioned to increase insurance coverage for all Nigerians, with particular focus on the poor and vulnerable. Currently, 1.8 million Nigerians are covered through the Vulnerable Groups Fund at the NHIA.' He added that 'forthcoming reforms will strengthen NHIA, which will target expanding private health insurance for the informal sector and strengthening Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), in collaboration with State Social Health Insurance Agencies (SSHIA).' He also said that 'the NHIA's involvement in funding and equipping primary healthcare centres will ensure they provide skilled birth attendants and essential services. 'It will support training programmes for health workers, ensuring they have the necessary skills and infrastructure to deliver quality care, particularly in rural a reas. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

New era at RASCOM with first female chairperson – Judith Yah Sunday

The General Manager of Cameroon Telecommunications (CAMTEL), Judith Yah Sunday has bridged the leadership gap at RASCOM, by becoming the first elected female chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Regional African Satellite Communications Organisation (RASCOM). Her historic election to this leadership position was on Thursday 23rd May 2024, day-two of the three-day 74th Board of Directors meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon. She comes in to replace Ivorian, Bini Kouame. In a poignant moment of personal reflection, the newly elected Chairperson expressed immense pride in being the very first woman to be elected to this position at RASCOM. 'On a purely personal note, I would like to say how proud I am to be the very first woman to be elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of RASCOM. It is a great responsibility that I take on with humility and determination, and I am convinced that together we can achieve great things' Judith Yah said. She equally extended her warm congratulations to Coulibaly Siaka, rep resentative of Mali, on his appointment as Vice-Chairman, and to Timothy Adi Ashong, Ghanaian, for being confirmed for a five-year mandate, as the Director General of RASCOM. Judith Yah, alongside the Vice-Chairman of RASCOM, Coulibaly Siaka, and the confirmed Director General of RASCOM, Timothy Adi Ashong, expressed unwavering dedication to working collaboratively towards the growth and prosperity of the organisation. With a vision for a future driven by collaboration, dedication, and innovation, Judith Yah sets the stage for a new era of progress, inclusivity, and excellence in advancing telecommunications development in Africa. In a historic moment marking a significant milestone for the Regional African Satellite Communications Organisation (RASCOM), the newly elected chairperson of the Board of Directors closed the session with a resolute commitment to advancing the organisation's influence and success in fulfilling its mission. Source: Cameroon News Agency

How SMEDAN is transforming Nigeria’s job market

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), says it is committed towards ensuring the transformation of Nigeria's job market to enhance economic development. The Director-General of SMEDAN, Mr Charles Odii said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. While speaking on the strides of the agency President Bola Tinubu- led administration, Odii said the agency had a mandate to grow Nigeria's Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). 'At SMEDAN, we have a mandate for the MSMEs sector and it is themed under Guidance, Resources, Opportunities and Work for support (GROW). 'Now, for work support, one of the things that we do is to help build the capacities of our small businesses and connect them to talents. 'And this is in line to create jobs and by doing so, we reduce the rate of unemployment and in that, capacity of money to do work, and earn a decent living in a country like Nigeria. 'So the first thing that we have done for our small businesses is help to identify their pain points, run a risk assessment on what exactly the small businesses need,'' he said. Odii said that it was important to know where the small businesses are located, and the problems they are confronted with. According to him, it is only then we can start to meticulously deploy intervention that will help solve their problems. He also highlighted the importance of understanding the needs of businesses across all 36 states and the FCT. See also Stakeholders appeal to FG to regulate cryptocurrency market 'Beyond that, we have started to create jobs. We empowered a couple of small businesses with tools that they need to start and grow enterprises, by doing so they will create jobs. 'We granted many of them, approximately 10,000 small businesses from SMEDAN have been granted funds for them to start businesses and then expand. 'His Excellency the President, in tandem with job creation has earmarked the sum of N200 billion for entrepreneurs in Nigeria,'' he said. According to Odii, N75 billion is earmarked for those in manufacturing, another N75 billion for small businesses and N50 billion in terms of grant to Nano businesses and they can access as much as one billion Naira at a single digit. 'We at SMEDAN help to build the capacity of these small businesses, we train them and then we deploy resources to them. 'We have identified approximately 12,060 people who have interest and by the end of next week, we are going to place at least 4, 000 of them in high paying jobs where the minimum pay they get is N100,000. 'We are doing this in partnership with one of our partners in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). According to Odii, the agency in the last seven weeks created approximately 48,000 jobs, while expressing hope to do as much as a million before the end of this administration. The director-general said these are some of the things SMEDAN was doing to support small businesses, to create jobs and to stimulate the economy. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Journalism veterans mandated to uphold ethics ahead of 2025 polls

By Nchendzengang Tatah BUEA, Cameroon (CNA) - A panel of six veteran journalists has been established to unite leaders of various press associations and organizations to promote ethics and deontology in journalism practice in Cameroon before the 2025 elections. The newly formed Journalists-emeritus Panel (JeP) includes esteemed Cameroonian news figures Victor Epie-Ngome, Martin Nkemngu, Charlie Ndi Chia, Wain Paul Ngam, Tricia Oben, and Gemnda Buinda. The JeP was the primary outcome of a meeting held on May 8, 2024, in Buea during the second Media Conference organized by Civil Initiatives for Development with Integrity (CiDi). The event was attended by the National Communication Council (NCC) president, Joseph Chebonkeng. Assisting the JeP is a Technical Committee comprising journalists and journalism scholars, including Scholar Maloke, Bouddih Adams, Franklin Sone Bayen, Wasso Norbert, Dr. Lizzie Nengieh, Dr. Olive Ejang, Dr. Eileen Manka'a Tabuwe, Randy Joe Sa'ah, and Kini Nsom. A working group will be created to economically empower media practitioners, including leaders of various press associations and organizations. This group will also be responsible for producing a common code of ethics for journalism practice. In anticipation of the upcoming elections, an election coverage task force of volunteer news media practitioners was also established. This task force aims to ensure comprehensive coverage of the multiple elections in 2025. The task force will also document election promises made by candidates and track their implementation to highlight unfulfilled promises. To protect members of the task force, its operations will be financed, and high-tech coverage equipment will be provided. Additionally, to offer reliable and processed information for other media players, the task force will run a centralized news pool. The organizers also announced that they would engage in monitoring and evaluating participants in various training programs to ensure they actively advocate for and follow up on reforms t oward an information policy, including the establishment of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to legally oblige public authorities to provide requested information to the press. Source: Cameroon News Agency

Interior Minister tasks paramilitary agencies on professionalism, rededication

The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has tasked the paramilitary agencies under his supervision, to rededicate themselves in the discharge of their duties professionally for better service delivery. The minister gave the charge in his welcome address at the ministry's top management retreat for its officers and agencies on Saturday in Abuja. Tunji-Ojo urged them to ensure efficiency and demonstration of the 'Renewed Hope' agenda in their various services for a better Nigeria. 'Renewe hope in the sense of performing better in terms of meeting the yearnings of Nigerians in a more effective and efficient way, by ensuring the security of Nigerians especially, internal security. 'Remember that whatever you do, it is in the interest of the country and Nigerians. So, professionalism must be brought to bear as you go about your responsibilities,' he stressed. According to him, the major reason for convening the retreat is to bring everybody concerned together to deliberate and share ideas for a bette r Nigeria. 'As from now henceforth, we are going to be coming together every six months, where every C-G will have to present to us his or her achievements in their various agencies. 'You see, I want you people to see running public offices as the way you run your own private offices or businesses. 'We must bring that mentality of the way you handle your private businesses or offices to bear in handling public offices. 'You must up your games, think inward and come up with solutions. I have always said that money is not always the solution to problems, but understanding the problems first, then you proffer solutions to them. See also Don't blackmail fellow citizen to get position in government - Group tasks politicians 'So, whoever is not ready to add value to public businesses, should up his or her game, or find his or her way out. 'The president cannot do it alone neither myself. So, let us all up our games for a better Nigeria,' he stated. Tunji-Ojo commended the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for the wonderful job it had been doing, adding that more could still be done for a safer and secured Nigeria. 'I like what you started with the private security guards, but you can still achieve more especially, in the area of protecting the nation's critical national asset. 'For the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) personnel, ensure a display of fundamental human rights of inmates, as the centres are transformational, rather than destructive centres,' the minister said. Tunji-Ojo reminded the fire service personnel that their profession was one of the highest employers of labour in any part of the world, being the first responders to any emergency situations. He urged them to move from just being responders to enumerators and regulators. The minister urged them to always ensure to be at the forefront as there was a need for them to always play a pivotal role in national development.' Earlier, Dr Aishetu Ndayako, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, stated that the retreat would enable them to assess themselves, in line with the vision of President Bola Tinubu's renewed hope agenda. 'The retreat, no doubt, is to demonstrate a commitment to bringing the president's vision of a safer and secured Nigeria to fruition. 'As you all know that the ministry and its agencies are playing a vital role in the internal security ecosystem of the country. See also NSCDC national spokesperson, Odumosu, emerges FCT Commandant 'We strive to ensure the safety and security of our country, in an ever evolving and complex global landscape. 'The challenges we face are formidable, but so too, is our collective resolve to confront them with our unwavering determination and strategic foresight for better Nigeria,' she said. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Summer Voluntary Service to Benefit Over 1.2 Million Residents of Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa: The Mayor of Addis Ababa, Adanech Abiebie announced today the launch of the city's annual summer voluntary service, which is poised to positively impact the lives of over 1.2 million citizens in the capital. Launching this year's summer voluntary service held in Lideta District of the capital, Mayor Adanech emphasized that this voluntary service initiative is a crucial component of Addis Ababa's modernization efforts, aimed at enhancing the well-being of the residents. She expressed her commitment to strengthening the program further. According to the mayor, the previous summer and winter voluntary service programs resulted in the construction and handover of 6,730 houses to less privileged local residents in the city. Elaborating on this year's plans, she revealed that the house construction and renovation program will benefit 17,500 citizens through the building of 3,500 homes for underprivileged members of the community. The mayor further highlighted that this year's summer voluntary servi ce various programs will be implemented by engaging over 2.2 million volunteers. She expressed her confidence that this widespread participation will ensure the success of the endeavor, ultimately benefiting more than 1.2 million Addis Ababa residents. Moreover, Mayor Adanech announced the commencement of three new 9-story buildings in Lideta sub-city, a collaborative effort involving various stakeholders. Three of the beneficiaries of the previous summer's house construction and renovation program, Zufan Sitotaw, Abeba Kassahun and Aregash Tulu, expressed their gratitude for the positive impact of the initiatives on their lives. It is estimated that the summer voluntary service program in Addis Ababa will transact over 5 billion birr, underscoring the city's commitment to improving the living conditions and opportunities for its residents through this extensive community-driven initiative. Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Edwin Clark @ 97, re-echos call for restructuring

Elderstateman, Edwin Clark, on Saturday, re-echoed his call for restructuring to tackle the current security, socioeconomic and other challenges facing the country. He made the call during a church thanksgiving service held to mark his 97th birthday anniversary. Clark, a former Federal Commissioner of Information, who was happy to attain the age of 97, said that as the National Assembly reviews the 1999 Constitution, it was necessary to consider restructuring. 'This country must be restructured. President Bola Tinubu should face the political problem of this country for the development of all regions. 'This country has to be restructured so that everybody will be equal; so that every Nigerian can aspire to the position he wants to be.' The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Leader, who expressed joy at 97 said, 'I feel very happy; very much reassured about my own life. I feel very much fulfilled and I give thanks to Almighty God that I am 97. 'I appreciate those who are taking care of my welfare and my secu rity. I thank Nigerians too'. He also called for a more united Nigeria where there would be more jobs created for the youths. Earlier, Reverend Canon Bola Ogunyannwo, Assistant Priest of Saint James Anglican Church, described the celebrant as an individual who has dedicated his life to serving God. 'He is a very humble man who God has blessed to achieve a lot for our nation. Who has sponsored so many people to rise to greater positions. See also Council inducts 55 newly qualified doctors at Igbinedion varsity 'Politically, he has done his bit,' he said. Ogunyannwo also said that so far, President Tinubu has achieved a lot with the signing of people-centred bills adding that a lot of other progress has been realised. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

PM Abiy Says Preparations for This Year’s Green Legacy Planting Are in Full Swing: PM Abiy

Addis Ababa: As we approach this year's Green Legacy planting season, preparations are in full swing, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said. Planting sites are being prepared and seedlings continuously being cultivated, the premier added. 'Our annual program, aimed at promoting environmental sustainability, combating climate change, reversing deforestation and reducing land degradation involves communities, schools, and organizations working together to plant billions of trees,' Abiy wrote on his social media. The Green Legacy Initiative is a flagship program initiated by Prime Minister Abiy in June 2019. Ethiopia has so far planted 32.5 billion tree saplings nationwide as part of its Green Legacy Initiative. The Initiative is a massive undertaking that aims to plant 50 billion tree seedlings by 2026, it was indicated. Source: Ethiopian News Agency