Chuwang Emmanuel, Jalingo

The Taraba State Government, through the state-owned Taraba State Contributory Health Insurance Agency (TSCHIA) has commenced the enrolment of beneficiaries into the federal government-funded Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

While performing the launch, Governor Darius Ishaku said the policy is in fulfillment of his administration’s desire to provide quality and affordable basic healthcare for the people of Taraba State.

“I am fulfilled as a Governor, because the TSCHIA that I initiated has not only matured but has also started yielding fruits.”

Represented by the state commissioner of health, Innocent Vakkai, Ishaku disclosed that when he took over the rein of the leadership of the State as Governor, World Bank statistics rated Taraba State as one of the poorest States in Nigeria. And “Health indices of the State were abysmal.”

Noting the efficacy of the health insurance scheme to the people of the state, Ishaku said since the agency was established in December 2019, he ensured the provision of adequate funds and working facilities, including ICT equipment for the agency to function effectively.

He listed the renovation and equipping of 168 various primary health centres, the upgrading and renovation of 3 general hospitals to the status of specialist hospitals among others as achievements recorded by his outgoing administration

“While we were trying to establish a State Social Health Insurance Scheme with a modern ICT to provide accessible, affordable, qualitative, and sustainable healthcare services for all the residents of the State, we also had to make sure that the service providers’ primary health centres and government hospitals were fully prepared to render to our enrollees, the desired quality of healthcare delivery services that Nigerians need in the 21st Century.” He said.

Speaking at the event the Director General of the National Health Insurance Agency, (NHIA) Mohammed Nasir, represented by the zonal coordinator, Dabo Abdullahi, disclosed that the scheme which was signed into law in 2014. “Regrettably this fund was not appropriated for the commencement of the implementation of the program until the 2018 fiscal year.”

He said, “This important legislation provides for the earmarking of not less than one percent of the consolidated revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the provision of Basic Minimum Package of Heath Care Services to all Nigerians.”

He admonished the Taraba State government to ensure budgetary provision for its equity fund and 25% BHCPF counterpart fund in the State budget every year.

“Also, the NHIA would want to encourage all implementing agencies and partners in Taraba State, to give this programme the needed publicity and support to achieve the required reduction of high out-of-pocket expenditure experienced by the people of Taraba State in the event of health challenges.” He noted

“Let me assure you of our continued support in NHIA for all programmes that will increase access to quality and affordable health care services to good people of Taraba State and indeed, all Nigerians.” He added

Also speaking, the state Permanent secretary Ministry of Health who read Vakkai speech noted that “I believe many of us are aware that the North-East and North-West Sub-regions of Nigeria are amongst the poorest Sub-regions of our dear country and also that the two Sub-regions account for the unenviable high maternal and childhood mortality ratios in the country.

“This is why the Taraba State government headed by the Rescue Captain decided to bring down our unacceptably high Childhood Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Ratio by embracing and aggressively implementing the Social Health Insurance Scheme across the State.”

 Vakai said the state Health Insurance Scheme will strengthen healthcare delivery, reduce mortality and reduce out-of-pocket health expenditure in the state.