Kwara: Reducing poverty through quality healthcare
At least, half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services, according to a new report from the World Bank and the World Health Organization. Indeed, each year, large numbers of households are pushed into poverty because they must pay for healthcare they can barely afford.
Against this background, it becomes imperative for government to provide quality and affordable healthcare for its people, as one of its cardinal responsibilities.
To this end, we must acknowledge the efforts of the Kwara State Government in the provision of affordable and accessible healthcare delivery for its people, particularly through its multiple award-winning Community Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS), which was recently upscaled to a state-wide health insurance scheme, to serve all categories of Kwarans and residents of the State. This is on top of the remodeling of Ilorin, Offa, Share, Omu Aran and Kaiama general hospitals into ultra modern health facilities. These strides by the Kwara State government have not gone unnoticed.
The Africa Report in its Progress Report ranked Kwara tenth on the poverty index among the 36 states of the federation. Perhaps, the efforts of the State government through health insurance scheme contributed to Kwara’s rating on the index. This is because there seems to be a nexus between providing affordable and accessible healthcare services and poverty alleviation.
To be productive, citizens must have access to quality healthcare. By providing quality and accessible healthcare in Kwara state, the government is indirectly reducing poverty rate in the state.
The health insurance scheme is a major shift away from the status quo of fee-for-service type intervention and unaffordable health care burdens placed on the people. Kwara Health Insurance Scheme (KHIS) is a major milestone in the State’s journey towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage. KHIS represented a culmination of 11-years of tireless effort towards ensuring that citizens and residents, irrespective of socio-economic status, gender or age have access to quality and affordable healthcare services at all times.
Some of the health benefits covered under the scheme include maternal and child care services, emergency care services and minor surgeries, everyday ailments, chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, preventive health education, amongst other benefits.
Under the KHIS, enrolment is automatic. Once premiums are paid, equal access will be promoted and financial protection to the poorest in the society will be guaranteed. KHIS will lower health care costs for the state economy, create a healthier workforce, prevent future social cost through early childhood care.
Similarly, health education provided under the scheme will teache families how to make healthy lifestyle choices and prevent chronic illnesses.
The sheer cost of providing quality health care makes universal health care a large expense for the government. However, the KHIS is sustainable due to partners, donors and philanthropic organisations such as the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PharmAccess Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation, USAID and partners of the Saving Lives At Birth Project, and SafeCare.
Apart from the partnership, the state government had set aside an initial N200million for the take-off. The government had also committed to contributing one percent of its annual Consolidated Revenue Fund and to subsidise premiums and service delivery to those considered part of the poorest in the society.
However, prior to the launching of KHIS, the health sector under the leadership of Governor Ahmed had recorded some laudable achievements among which is the comprehensive rehabilitation and remodeling of 5 General Hospitals in Ilorin, Offa, Omu-Aran, Share and Kaiama with state of the art equipment.
Also, about 50 Primary Health Care facilities were upgraded, expansion of Community Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS) from the three to ten local government councils where more than 600,000 rural dwellers benefited.
The Ahmed-led government supplied drugs and equipment to 13 general hospitals and 43 primary health centers across the state. Free cervical and breast cancer screening was conducted for 4000 female civil servants in the state in partnership with Leah Foundation.
When health care is affordable and accessible to the people, the economy grows and the poverty rate is reduced. This is one of several reasons Africa Report ranked Kwara second in Nigeria.