Posts Tagged ‘HAPPY Nigeria’

Let us Save Everyone

In an article here a couple of months ago, I had shared my opinion about what I considered quite unsettling about the increase in social media ran citizens health support campaigns with hash tags that implore on us to make contributions to aid an ailing individual. The crux of my argument simply put was that there were better ways to do it without leaving space for fifth columnists and that more groups (NGO’s, FBO’s Philanthropist’s etc) should arise to advance more coordinated efforts to support and save the most vulnerable in our society.

It is heartwarming to learn of an initiative in that regard. HAPPY Nigeria (which stands for Health Advocacy, Promotion and Partnership by Youths in Nigeria) a not for profit organisation recently launched a campaign to push the issue of medical health insurance to the front burner and as they say, create an opportunity to save all Nigerians especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.

Tagged #SaveAll, the campaign is using social media to urge a generation of young Nigerians to secure the health and future of the future generation by asking them to sign a petition seeking the National Assembly who are accidentally in the process of amending the National Health Insurance Scheme Act to insert provisions that would guarantee social health insurance coverage for all health emergencies in all hospitals, children below 5 years, physically challenged people , elderly people above 65years, families making less than 70% of the national minimum wage per month, the unemployed and people that needs kidney transplant and other expensive treatments without insistence on hospital deposits. In other words, government will by the law, take up responsibility for payment of their healthcare.

Many Nigerians who have followed the run up to the 2012 American elections would have observed the huge importance and emphasis placed on medical insurance either as Medicare or Obamacare by both of the candidates and many have speculated that the argument around it could well be one of the issues that will determine who wins the election. Such is the importance civilized societies place on the health and wellbeing of their people and governments make deliberate policies to assist her citizens by enabling them access medical care when they need it thus abolishing the possession of money as a hindrance to life.

Citing America as an example might make this seem like a policy too far off for us to achieve. It might interest you to know that countries like Rwanda which is just emerging from protracted war pays for the treatment of her people. In Thailand, by law, all patients are covered by medical insurance regardless of their ability to pay. Little known Moldova which gained independence just in 1991, offers free healthcare for her people. The question is, why not Nigeria?

An embarrassingly high percentage of all medical expenditure in Nigeria is still paid for through out-of-pocket payments. The depth of this absurdity becomes clearer when we recall that 70% of our people live below the poverty line and unemployment is in double digits. What it simply means is that when you are ill and you can’t pay the bills immediately, you die. Nigeria is too rich to allow her citizens suffer this fate.  It is unacceptable that in 2012, Nigeria has no social health security for children, seniors and even the disabled. Many of them die from curable/treatable health conditions due to lack of money. The existing health insurance scheme, the implementation of which is an issue for another day, covers only the real sector. There is no policy that provides for treatment of emergencies especially in private health facilities without insisting on initial deposits. Indeed many such facilities will not lift a finger to save a patient if deposits have not been made. And till today, treatment of gunshot victims is still a subject of controversy.

And the indices speak for themselves. Pregnant women still die giving life, Nigeria posting the highest rate in the world. We have the highest malaria burden globally. We are one of the only 3 countries yet to eradicate polio. Nigeria has the 3rd largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world (After India and South Africa) and 5th in the scale of TB burdens worldwide. Nigeria has a poor doctor-patient ratio of 1:3500 against the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard of 1:600; and is still losing many of her skilled health workers to other countries due to poor working conditions. Our Human Development Index is one of the lowest and life expectancy is a scary forty seven.

As stated earlier, we can afford this and it is a must. We cannot resort to raising money on social media to save people from case to case basis when billions continue to disappear into caps and personal pockets. The HAPPYNigeria initiative allows us all to save ourselves simply by adding your voice to the call on our legislature to include complete social insurance cover for Nigerians in the National Health Insurance Act.

The requirement is simple, sign the campaign which is available here, share the information on all your channels and support it in other ways available to you.

Let me conclude with an alarming fact, for the period you spent reading this piece, at least one Nigerian child died from a curable disease because the parents are poor. Your signature as well as other related initiatives to this end will make change happen.

This Article is written in support of the HAPPY Nigeria Save all Campaign.

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