Gbagyi Community Rolls Out Drums To Celebrate Health Insurance | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Abuja, Metro

Gbagyi Community Rolls Out Drums To Celebrate Health Insurance

Posted: Jun 26, 2015 at 6:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Hassan Zaggi  –  Abuja


Maimuna Bala is a 23 –year- old house wife who lives in Lugbe, one of the most popular surburbs located on Airport Road in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Abuja.

She is Gbagyi by tribe. Gbagyi is the most populous indigenous tribe in the FCT, where the indigenes, who are mostly poor peasant farmers, live mostly in surburbs and local villages around the capital city.

She has two children, who were delivered at home due to lack of money to go to an orthodox hospital for proper medical attention.  Also, whenever any of the children or herself falls sick, having access to the hospital for quality health care is always a challenge, due to the exorbitant medical charges by operators of private hospitals.

The situation, according to her, has been compounded because of lack of drugs in the only primary health care facility in the area.  Her words: “I use to spend a lot of money whenever I go to the hospital for medical attention.

This is because, medical personnel use to prescribe drugs and in some case the number of syringes for us to go and buy and as you know the drugs are very expensive to common people like us.  Therefore, we depend on local herbal products, which are cheaper when we are faced with challenging health issues to deal with.  “Whenever my children fall ill I do take them to the hospital, but the challenge has always being the payment of the hospital bill as in most times they are always high.

“Therefore with this health insurance now in place things are becoming easier with us, as we do not think of money when our children are sick. That is why you see us rejoicing and dancing today as if there is no tomorrow. In fact we are very excited and overwhelmed,” she narrated.

On his part, Lawal Ado is a 48-year-old, a fish seller who lives in the same area and has two wives and seven children.  He says his greatest challenge comes when his wives or children falls sick.

“Whenever you take your child or your wife to the general hospital, to see the doctor is always a problem. When you eventually see the doctor and he or she prescribes some drugs for you to buy, to get the drugs is another challenge altogether because of the lack of money.

“And when you venture to take your sick child to a private hospital, the charges are always high. So we the poor, peasant farmers are then left between two devils- lack of money and exorbitant hospital bills”.

“Most times when my wife or my child is sick I don’t find it easy accessing health care, because of lack of money. All my children except one were delivered at home. This is why you see us rejoicing and dancing here today because of the formal launch of this health insurance.

We are happy because we don’t need to have money before we take our children to the hospital,” he explained. This is the sad story of Gbagyi people who live in Lugbe very close to the FCT.

Indigenes of the community recently rolled out the drums in joyous celebrations as if there was no tomorrow  when  the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) launched a Community Based Health Insurance Scheme, christened: Lugbe Mutual Health Insurance Cooperative Society. Checks revealed that with the community health insurance scheme now in place, each person is expected to register with N1, 800 per year, which translates to about N150 per month.  This will enable them have access to qualitative health service at the well equipped primary health care facility located in the area.

Speaking with journalists at the formal launch, Chairman, Board of Trustees of Lugbe Mutual Health Insurance Cooperative Society, Ambassador Prince Mustapha, said: “Lugbe is a peaceful cosmopolitan community with a growing population of about 750,000 rural dwellers with divers health backgrounds.

The community due to its growing population was divided into ten administrative zones and three phases. “Each zone containing at least 500 buildings, consisting of pregnant women, nursing mothers and children in need of serious medical attention as well as accident victims and aged parents that require constant medical attention.

“All these health-care-demanding residents look up to the primary health care (AMAC PHC) centre in Lugbe for proper medical attention, but most times their needs cannot be sufficiently  met, as the presence of the PHC centre is like ‘a small fish in the midst of hundreds of hungry lions.’

“This is why the establishment of this community-based social health insurance programme is greatly appreciated, since most times when cases of serious health challenges arise, residents are referred to bigger hospitals outside Lugbe, like the Wuse General Hospital”.

It is not because the PHC centre cannot handle the situation professionally, but because the centre lacks necessary equipment and facilities that are paramount to its effectiveness, he said.

On his part, Acting Executive Secretary of NHIS, Femi Akingbade, said that Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP) is one of the strategies that are paying off remarkably well.

According to him, NHIS will always be a worthy partner and consistently provide technical support to the Lugbe Mutual Health Cooperative Society, in addition to subsidizing the programme through the payment of premium contributions for all registered pregnant women and children below the age of five for a period of three years.