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Nigeria Denies Plans for Separate HMO for Civil Servants Amid Controversy Over New Health Insurance Scheme

Ministry of Defence statement suggested a new HMO for civil servants, but Minister of Health refuted it, emphasising universal coverage.

Amid concerns over moves by the federal government to establish a new Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO) to cater for federal civil servants, the  Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has said that no such facility is being set up.

A statement posted by the Ministry of Defence on its website on Thursday had said the new HMO would be known as the Federal Civil Service Health Maintenance Limited.

The statement quoted the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Defence, Dr Ibrahim Kana, as having has that President Bola Tinubu had approved the creation of a new HMO to be called FCSHML.

However, the  Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate faulted the announcement made by the Ministry of Defence on the approval of the creation of a new HMO for civil servants.

In a post on his X handle, Pate said: “I am very surprised to see this announcement on a matter that is far from being concluded. President Bola Tinubu’s administration is focused in the health sector on expanding financial protection for all Nigerians, not only a few privileged ones.

 “The forces that held back progress on health insurance (only about 7 per cent population or 16 million of Nigerians covered in more than 20 years) waking up to undermine efforts to reform the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to accelerate coverage for all Nigerians.

“I urge the proponents of this ‘project’ to tarry a bit, not conflate power with knowledge, and work through this effort constructively and as part of the NHIA reforms underway. Urging all involved to carefully consider the implications of undermining Nigeria’s progress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for narrow and very short term interests”.

The minister further  explained that the reform being carried in the health insurance scheme will expand coverage for civil servants, including through a properly established and appropriately regulated Federal Civil Service HMO coverage for retirees.

He said that  the facility will at the same time expand protection for millions of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, not only for the federal civil servants.

Onyebuchi Ezigbo

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