Bayelsa State Government has called on residents of the state to take advantage of the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme (BHIS), in order to have access to affordable and quality health care services.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Newton Igwele made this known on Thursday, July 14, in a chat with our correspondent in Yenagoa.
He said the scheme is open to all residents of the state and not just indigenes, adding that enrollment is necessary because sickness does not announce its arrival.
The Commissioner, who said BHIS is one of the best in the country, also called on political appointees in the state to pay premium on behalf of others who may not be able to pay, to create a healthier state and protect lives.
His words: “The world is going into Universal Coverage where patients should not pay bills out of their pockets; if they pay out of their pockets it’s very expensive and at the time you need the health services you may not have money.
“Sickness would not tell you when it wants to knock on your door, it can come at anytime, accidents won’t tell you when it wants to come, so when you have this compulsory little savings, at the time you need the care, you have something to fall back to.
“Civil servants and everyone who has registered into the scheme has benefitted immensely. Across the nation BHIS is adjudged to be the best, in fact we pride ourselves as one of the best.
“When we go around the federation, they always ask us, what is the template you used to achieve this feat? Some of our neigbouring states have not been able to achieve this feat, so they come to us to see how we do it”.
Dr. Igwele thanked Governor Douye Diri for keeping the scheme afloat and for injecting new ideas into it, saying it has improved the health attitude and lifestyle of Bayelsans.
“The health seeking behaviour of Bayelsans before the BHIS was very poor because they did not want to spend money in the hospitals, after the introduction of the scheme it has increased significantly.
“The Governor has improved funds for the construction of a befitting BHIS Complex which is ongoing and would be ready in the next five or six months, it will also give the BHIS staff a more comfortable work environment.
“Previously it was only the formal sector that was eligible for the scheme, now we have moved to the informal sector, which includes everyone who is not a civil servant. The keke riders, artisans, just name them, they can begin to enroll into the scheme”, he stated.
Dr. Igwele revealed that the BHIS is working in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), to ensure that the systems are improved, and will also be a critical part of the Bayelsa Health Law.
He said: “There are funds that accrue to oil producing communities from international development partners, and most times the funds are not properly managed. What we plan to do is make policies that request the communities to pay a premium to the BHIS on behalf of every household.
“There are up to 2000 oil producing communities, and if they can get all households enrolled into the scheme, it will go a long way to secure their health, as most of them don’t go to the hospitals because they pay out of their pockets.
“With this scheme we will also be able to revitalize primary health care centres across the state, send manpower to these communities and ensure that community health insurance is possible and every Bayelsan is enrolled into the scheme.
“We have approached the Deputy Governor and politicians in the state to pay just 1500 naira only to contribute to help the vulnerable, we have about 2,000 political appointees.
“If they do this we can cover up to 10,500 persons which will impact a lot of lives and also go beyond community health insurance to cover the entire population of the state”, he concluded.