Some beneficiaries of the Kaduna State Government Health Insurance Scheme have lauded the pro-poor program, saying it has improved poor and vulnerable households’ access to health services.
The beneficiaries gave the commendation in separate interviews on Wednesday in Soba, Soba Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
The Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Authority (KADCHMA) has enrolled a total of 79,329 poor and vulnerable populations into the scheme to access free basic health care services.
The enrolment, according to the Director-General, KADCHMA, Malam Abubakar Hassan, was under the one per cent consolidated revenue being provided in the state annual budget.
Hassan also said that a total of 50,648 poor and vulnerable population were also enrolled under the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, adding that a total of N1.1 billion had also been contributed to cover their healthcare.
The beneficiaries, who commended the state government for the initiative, said that the scheme has significantly reduced poor households’ out-of-pocket expenditure on health services.
One of the beneficiaries, Malam Bala Maishayi, who sells tea and bread along the main street of Soba, described the scheme as the best thing that has happened to him and members of his family.
The 76-year-old man, who said that he has been accessing the service for the past one year, said he no longer spends money on health care because the government has paid for it on his behalf.
“Being an aged man, sometimes I spent as much as N12,000 on drugs alone. There was this incident when I had to call my younger brother who sent N7,000 for my medical care.
“But since I got enrolled into the scheme I have never paid a naira for drugs or any form of examination.
“All I do whenever I feel sick is to walk into the Primary Health Care, Soba and I will be tested and given drugs for free and most times I am attended to between 15 and 20 minutes,” he said.
Another beneficiary, Malam Adulhamidu Sabitu, 65, also expressed joy for being a one of the beneficiaries of the scheme, adding that gesture has given him rest of mind.
“I used to get worried whenever I felt sick because of the amount of money I will need to settle the hospital bills, but now all I need is my enrolment Identification card,” he said.
Also commenting, Hajiya Saratu Yunusa, 50, said she has been accessing the free health care services for about two years now, adding that it was such a relief for her household who struggle to eat.
Yunusa, who said she is hypotensive, told NAN that she spent between N1,500 and N2,000 before her enrolment into the scheme whenever she visits the hospital.
“Now that amount is being spent on other critical needs in the house. This is a very good program that addresses the crucial problem of poor households, and I urged the government to sustain it,” she said.
Also speaking, Hajiya Aisha Adda’u, 45, who equally lauded the program, however complained that sometimes she pays for drugs because the health officials said there were no free drugs.
Sharing a similar experience, Mrs Indo Ibrahim, 40, said that beside the problems of inconsistent supply of drugs, sometimes the attitude of the health workers was very discouraging.
“In fact, because most of the time I am not well cared for by the health workers, I decided to patronize private facilities where I will pay and get the services I need,” she said.
For Malam Yakubu Shawai, Ward Head of Kaware, Soba District, the scheme has improved the health status of his people, particularly women, children, old people, and other vulnerable groups.
Yakubu called on the government to institutionalize social protection interventions to sustain access to household uplifting programs by the poor and vulnerable.
Also, Mr Hassan Shehu, Secretary, Ward Development Committee, Soba Ward, said that the reduction in health expenditure was significantly helping poor and vulnerable households to access other basic services.
Shehu, who acknowledged the shortage of drugs in the facility, attributed it to the problem with the supply chain from the State Health Supplies Management Agency to health facilities across the state.
He called for the decentralization of the agencies to enable timely supply of drugs and other health supplies to health facilities to improve quality of service at PHCs.
Responding, Officer-In-Charge, PHC Soba, Mr Umar Yahaya, said that more than 1,000 poor and vulnerable people have been enrolled for free basic healthcare in the facility.
Yahaya said that of the figure, more than 600 have accessed various health services in the facility, adding that N2.1 million worth of drugs have been supplied to the facility to address the short supply.
NAN reports that a reasonable number of the enrollees in the facility were not accessing the service due to lack of confidence on government program.
One of them, Mr Garba Saidu, 50, said he was enrolled in January 2021, but has never visited the hospital to access the services, because he was not sure if the services were actually free.
Another enrollee who also did not access the service, Malam Nuhu Muazu, 50, described the scheme as mere “political gimmicks”.
NAN reports that health insurance scheme is a form of social protection program by governments that cover some or all of the costs of health services within a defined benefit package.
Save the Children International is currently supporting the state government to strengthen its social protection systems under its Expanding Social Protection for Inclusive Development, a UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office funded program.