By Khalid Idris Doya
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has observed that it would be difficult for the 5.3 million classified extremely poor people out of the estimated 8 million population of Bauchi state to continually afford health services out of their pockets.
The Bauchi state Coordinator of the Integrated Health Program, Dr. Alhassan Siaka, who was speaking at the opening of a two-day media engagement workshop on health insurance, organized USAID funded Integrated Health Program (IHP) which held at Jamil hotel in Azare, headquarters of Katagum local government area of the state on Tuesday.
Siska stressed the need for improved health insurance coverage for the people through the media campaigns, and gave three elements that included formal health sector insurance covering persons who work for organized public service, informal health insurance for the population not under employment, and the critical vulnerable population that do not have enough resources to pay for health insurance.
“These people are supposed to be paid for by the state, whether the federal, state or philanthropist organizations, or some philanthropists, coming from individuals or corporate organizations that are able to do that, and Bauchi at this moment is not benefitting from these arrangements”, he noted.
The program coordinator disclosed that only about 50, 000 people out of the 5.3 million are covered, querying “How do you cover 50, 000 out of 5.3million and expect health indices would change as a result of that figure”, hence something has to be done to ensure that these poor people are able to access primary healthcare services.
“That is why today we think that it is important we give you all the facts as members of the media to understand what the issues are and then build-up what is necessary around those issues and ensure that we get the right responses to require responsibilities or the government of Bauchi state taking responsibility very seriously”.
“It is going to require the government at the centre, the federal government, to double its efforts in this regard. Already, the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund has taken care of some, which is why we are able to get 50, 000, but that is because that is the only number that is funding at the moment”, Siaka added.
He explained that in the formal health insurance there are issues between the organized labour and the Bauchi state government where a lot of progress have been made over the years, “So there is a room for the media to take up these issues and the organized labour to mediate with a view to move forward.”
In his presentation on the benefits of Health Insurance and the Role of the Media in Bauchi State, the State IHP Health Financing Advisor, Pharm. Khalid Kasimu, said that in Bauchi state, there is a huge investment in the health sector, but only a 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 gatekeepers is to influence social behaviour and change communication, adding that the media is largely responsible for deciding what issues society discusses in the public.
Khalid however observed that the was a movement around the National Assembly to try to increase the allocation of fund, hence the need for the media to put in a lot of pressure to ensure that, that law is passed through for the government to take the next steps required to make the funding expanded to increase the number of benefiting people.
Also speaking the Executive Secretary of the Bauchi State Health Contributory Management Agency, BASHCMA, Dr. Mansur Mustapha Dada has said that the agency from July 2021 to March 2022 disbursed over two hundred million naira to the 323 main Primary Healthcare Centres across the state, for the provision of basic and quality healthcare services to over forty five thousand vulnerable population enrolled under the scheme.
He said the agency was the regulatory body responsible for ensuring that beneficiaries of the scheme were provided with quality and accessibile healthcare services by the 323 functional healthcare facilities in each of the political wards across the state.