The World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Imo State Government, have partnered to launch the innovative, Mobile Health Insurance Programme, in Owerri, designed to achieve seamless coverage of over 96 per cent population of the informal sector.
The initiative would help to reduce the existing out-of-pocket expenditure of 92 per cent, as the mobile platforms would provide automated opportunities for philanthropists to graciously adopt the poor and vulnerable on health insurance.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the Governor, Hope Uzodinma, said the state government depends strongly on the genuine and constructive partnership of the WHO towards achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
He said the WHO supported the State with the design, and flag-off of the insurance scheme, which has culminated in the launch of the use of mobile phone technology to pay for and access Health Insurance.
According to him, the initiative is the first of its kind in Africa, towards ensuring that people get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.
Uzodinma lauded the leadership role of WHO in their response to the global health crisis caused by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, and also to the health challenges in Imo, while reiterating his commitment to repositioning the health sector.
He requested the renewed partnership of the WHO in Primary Health Care (PHC) revitalization, and the full implementation of the State Health Insurance Scheme, to provide access to essential healthcare to Imo citizens at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.
He also sought the Organisation’s support in revamping the State’s health security, emergency preparedness, and response, and overhaul of the drug revolving scheme, to eliminate the issue of fake or substandard drugs in hospitals.
In his remarks, the Nigeria Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said the WHO recognises the peculiar needs of each population from others, and thus makes deliberate efforts to fashion out the health system that works for them based on their needs.
While stating the fact that COVID-19 has further exposed the vulnerabilities of the global health systems, he pledged WHO’s continuous support within the 13 General Programmes of Work, and the State Health Strategic Development Plan.
He appreciated the Government for placing the health of its people high on its overall agenda, and level of political commitment to the health sector, and expressed confidence that if sustained, the State and WHO will together promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.
WHO already supported the State with core health financing analytics with the development and printing of the State Health Financing Policy and Strategy, operational guidelines of the State Health Insurance Scheme, key operational documents for the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, as well as the donation of laptop computers.