By Kemi Olatunde
Accessing health care in Nigeria has become a huge challenge in recent times as cost of drugs, hospital consumables and health care delivery among others are continually inflated due to economic factors which is not restricted to the health sector alone. This development has subjected people to a level of untold hardship.
In Ondo State, the state Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu before now put in place an insurance package for public servants; Orange Health Insurance Scheme (ORANGHIS) in September 2022 which has been a success. Thanks to the Governor who is always giving priority to health of citizens if not the story would have been a pathetic one as regards workers’ health at the moment.
ORANGHIS covers treatment of common illnesses, surgeries, dental and optical care, antenatal care, delivery including Caesarean Section, management of common diseases in children among others at no cost.
Governor Akeredolu, flagged off of the Orange Health Insurance Scheme (ORANGHIS) for public servants in the state at a well attended event which was held at the International Culture and Event Centre, The Dome, Akure on the 27th of September, 2022.
According to him, the official flag off of ORANGHIS ushered in a breath of fresh air in the healthcare delivery system in line with the fifth point of his government’s REDEEMED agenda, which is Effective Healthcare and Social Welfare.
He said that ORANGHIS is designed for all political office holders and civil servants in the State, stressing that the delight of any Governor in a developing country like Nigeria, is to be able to create a sustainable funding mechanism that lowers the financial barriers to healthcare for the citizenry.
The Governor revealed that in spite of the obvious economic constraints across Nigeria, his administration has approved the joint contribution of 3% of gross salary of each public servant under a sharing ratio of 1.8% by the State Government and 1.2% by individual public servant, as the premium for a family health insurance plan, covering each public servant, one spouse and four biological children below the age of 18 years.
Akeredolu also noted that it is on record that the state is the only State Government, in recent times, that is taking up the responsibility of a larger percentage (60%) of the health insurance premium for public servants, saying government is doing so as part of the social welfare promise under the REDEEMED agenda.
“I am aware that enrolment of public servants under ORANGHIS has commenced at a time that many of them truly need healthcare services which they cannot afford. It is a known fact that we are daily inundated with financial requests for health care. So, your little contributions under ORANGHIS have combined to form a pool of funds from which anyone of you who requires any of the health care services covered by the scheme would not have to pay a dime. Our government-owned and privately-owned hospitals that have been accredited under ORANGHIS would also soon wear new looks.
At the onset, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu assured that the State Government’s percentage contribution and the premium deductions from public servants’ salaries to the Orange Health Insurance Scheme shall not wane.
A fourth health insurance scheme known as Sunshine Health Insurance Scheme (SUNSHIS) for the informal sector that makes up about 95% of our population is billed to commence in the nearest future to cover artisans, market women, commercial transport operators etc.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Banji Ajaka commended the Governor for his improvement of the health sector including the creation of the State Contributory Health Commission, development of the University of Medical Science Teaching Hospital, purchase of multi million naira worth of medical equipment for Primary Health Care facilities in batches, establishment of the state Drug and Health Commodities Management Agency among others.
Speaking with The Hope, Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Prof Dayo Faduyile explained that its impact on the populace has been very tremendous stating that a lot of civil servants have benefitted from it.
“We have heard heartwarming stories from those we have registered. There have been over 120,000 beneficiaries in the different health institutions who have their work plan. The impact is reflected in the outlook and health services of these health facilities.
“National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been in existence for over 20 years with over 40,000 enrollees in Ondo State but ORANGHIS has over 120000 enrollees. We are yet to receive complaints from beneficiaries hence, it is commendable.” He revealed.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Pharm. (Mrs) Folukemi Aladenola explained that with ORANGHIS, there has not been delay in accessing health services for civil servants saying”ORANGHIS is the best.”
While calling for collaboration between the Ondo State Contributory Health Commission and the Ondo State Drug and Health Commodities Management Agency in ensuring that patients prescribed drugs are available for use, he said that the agency ha s been put in place to ensure drug security so a s to eradicate out of stock in the state saying “we don’t want to expose residents to dangers of fake drugs.”
Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (OSPHCDA), Dr. Francis Akanbiemu while speaking with The Hope described it as the game changer for health service delivery in the state.
He explained that Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities are recording large number of beneficiaries adding that the insurance scheme has helped in reducing morbidity and mortality rate in the state.
Speaking further, he said; “It has brought a lot of succour and relief to residents as the health of the people are now better. People no longer spend their hard earned resources to access health in the state. With ORANGHIS, they can access the kind of health service they desire. It has reduced catastrophic health expenditure. With it, one can access health services without paying a dime at the various accredited health facilities in the state.”
The Ondo state Head of Service, Pastor Kayode Ogundele said that the scheme has enabled government alleviate the burden of what public servants spend on health.
Describing it as a comprehensive programme which covers what most Health Insurance in Nigeria do not cover, he said; “It covers sophisticated operations. It assists Public servants to save and ensure that they don’t toil with their health care. Hence, government has shown care and welfare using ORANGHIS as a vehicle to alleviate financial burden of beneficiaries.
“A feedback mechanism has also been out in place in ensuring that the programme fulfills it’s objectives. Also plans have been put in place to ensure that consumables are made available in our health facilities in sufficient quantities to care for the basic needs of the populace.
“Workers have seen that it is one of the best decisions to have ever been taken to agree to be included in the programme. It is a motivating factor for workers in the state as they get the best medical care in health facilities with the scheme thus, helping them contribute their quota in enhancing productivity in the state.”
A teacher of Adegbola Grammar School, Akure who craved anonymity said that the scheme has rescued so many from financial embarrassment commending the governor for putting it in place.
“The Governor has done well with ORANGHIS. It has really helped beneficiaries especially with the unprecedented economy at hand. I have three children out of which I have registered two, we access health anytime we need medical attention.” She said.
A civil servant, Mr Adeyemi Odunayo said that ORANGHIS saved his son from premature death recently describing it as the best at this time.
He advised those who are yet to key into the state’s insurance package to do so.
“My son was sick for a while after which an minor operation was to be carried out on jim. Thank God, we have the scheme in place and that was how I was prevented from running Helter skelter in search of money for the operation. All residents should key into an insurance package.”
A female civil servant, Titilayo Adedoyin commended the scheme noting that it has been organised in her chosen health facility.
Her words; “I have enjoyed free health through ORANGHIS at the Clinic of the Ondo State College of Health Technology, Akure. I can say that health care delivery there is perfect. The scheme is good and perfect for the present economy. The policy makers have done well by putting it in place.”