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Minister Reads the Riot Act to Health Maintenance Organisations

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Angry at the poor performance of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) in Nigeria, the Federal Government has said it would no longer tolerate the situation,

The Minister of Health, Dr.

Osagie Ehanire, stated this at Strategic Stakeholder’s engagement with HMOS, organized by National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS), in Abuja.
He said with on-going reforms at the agency, the HMOs must review their operations because this would help them to be relevant and reputable in the new NHIS.

The Minister who was represented at the occasion by Director of Hospital services, Dr.

Omale Ahmadu, said, “Report reaching me indicate that an overwhelming percentage of enrolees and health care providers have expressed grave concerns over the performance of HMOs with areas of the concerns including, but not limited to, non-remittance of payments to healthcare providers, poor customer service delivery and inaccessibility to enrolees at critical moments of need.

“The collective results of these and many other cases of service failure in the industry are poor service delivery, poor quality of care and a worrisome reputation damage for the Scheme”.

The Minister while declaring open the meeting stressed, “let it be noted today, ladies and gentlemen, that these anomalies are no longer acceptable, because this government is determined to get it right with NHIS, in view of its status as a strategic tool for effective and efficient healthcare delivery system in the country.

“I therefore have no doubts that the HMOs will key into the reforms to rebrand NHIS, by frankly addressing internal reforms within and among themselves”.

Ehanire said based on the ongoing reforms at the agency, he called on all stakeholders to take full advantage of the reforms in NHIS, to engage in frank conversations around the issues that have clogged the wheels of NHIS in the past.

“I wish to repeat myself by saying that all stakeholders of the National Health Insurance Scheme are expected to take advantage of the reform mood of the regulatory body, to critically examine themselves and their operations. This is the only way to remain relevant and reputable in the new NHIS we are building”, he said.

In his speech, the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Professor Mohammed Nasir Sambo, said it was imperative to achieve the key objectives of the agency.

“If we don’t achieve the main objectives of NHIS posterity will judge us. President Muhammadu Buhari is in a hurry to see the success of the health insurance scheme in Nigeria. So it is imperative for all stakeholders in this health insurance scheme to be committed in making it successful”,.

Former President, Resident Doctors of Nigeria, Dr. Kayode Obembe, in his goodwill message accused the GMOs of not following the stipulated laws established by the scheme, “We have very good guidelines but people are not following it. We must obey the rules and regulations, that is how we can make progress.

And whenever we go to them and tell them, this is what the law says, they don’t follow it. We need to have more legislation on the scheme”.

He lamented the health insurance scheme poor coverage in the rural areas, “The goal is Universal Health Coverage, UHC, and it can only be achieved by community based health insurance scheme”.

Health

400 Benefit from Free TB Screening in Bauchi

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No fewer than 400 residents of Bauchi have benefitted from free Tuberclosis screening exercise initiated by a group, Langa Women Development Association.

The Programme Manager of the group, Mr Ogala Ogala, said this at the inauguration of the two-day exercise on Saturday in Bauchi.

He said the exercise was designed to promote public health and curb spread of Tuberculosis.

He said exercise was being implemented in collaboration between the organisation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria ( BACATMA).

“We targeted the ECWA Women Conference for the Bauchi South, to conduct free screening exercise.

“The aim is to promote public health and awareness creation among the people to encourage healthy living.

“This is not just for women alone but whoever is at the designated venue can also access the free screening,” he said.

Also, Dr Simon Mafwalal, its Senior Project Manager, said the group with the support of the U.S. agency was providing TB screening services in the state.

“We can have all the equipment used for screening TB, whoever is diagnosed with the disease or has symptoms will be given the required treatment and counseling.” he said.

Mafwalal said that the medical van has the capacity to screen 250 clients daily, adding that a reasonable number of people would be screened before the end of the exercise. (NAN)

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Health

Meningitis Outbreak Kills 20 Students Of FGGC Potiskum, Other Schools In Yobe

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Twenty students have died in three boarding girls’ secondary schools and the Federal Government Girls’ College in Potiskum and Fika local government areas of Yobe State from a suspected outbreak of meningitis. 

The Yobe State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education Mohammed Sani-Idris told journalists that “20 students have been confirmed dead in the last few weeks from the suspected meningitis outbreak across some boarding secondary schools in Potiskum and Fika local government areas.

Many have been hospitalized but now discharged”.

He explained that after the outbreak at the secondary schools, “I as Commissioner, my Permanent secretary and the Executive Secretary of the State’s Science Technical Board as well as the Chairman of the Teaching Service Board have relocated to Potiskum temporarily to ensure the disease does not escalate”.

Meanwhile, Governor Mai Mala Buni represented by his Deputy Idi Barde-Gubana visited the affected schools of Fika Government Secondary School, Government Science Technical College, and Federal Government Girls’ Technical College all in Potiskum and well as Government Girls’ Science Technical College Gadaka in Fika Local Government Area of the state.

Governor Buni said: “As part of the effort geared towards containing and effectively tackling the outbreak, the government has already provided the emergency treatment drugs as well as deployment of a rapid response team to all the affected areas”.

While briefing the representative of the Governor at Specialist Hospital Potiskum, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Isa Bukar said a total number of 214 cases were recorded and three are still in the intensive care unit of the hospital responding to treatment.

A similar outbreak had killed many residents of Degubi community in Fika Local Government Area of the state in April 2023.

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Health

Cross River Warns Residents about Suspected Outbreak of Haemorrhagic Fever

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Cross River warned about a possible outbreak of viral haemorrhagic fever in old Ndebeji, in Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state on Saturday.

Viral haemorrhagic fever is any group of infectious diseases that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot.

They are spread by contact with infected animals, people or insects.

Examples include Ebola and yellow fever.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Henry Ayuk, said in Calabar that a suspected index case was currently being investigated in complete isolation at the Ndebeji healthcare centre.

He said he had directed the state’s epidemiologist and her team to work with the local government team to collect samples from suspected cases for diagnosis

“They will provide palliative case management and institutionalise adequate infection prevention and control in the facility.

“They will also work with community leaders to identify and restrict movements of known contacts till the sample results of the suspected index client are out and entrench risk communication in the community.

“I must note that cases are most likely to present early with fever, rash, body weakness, bleeding from body openings or may even be asymptomatic,’’ he said.

Dr Ayuk appealed to residents to avoid rodents and insect bites, adding that they should put on personal protective wears if they must come close to livestock, other animals and zoos. (NAN)

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