Women and Children in Support of Community Development Initiative (WOCCI) has call on the Plateau state Government to take urgent action in bridging the healthcare coverage gap on universal health coverage and sustainable peace on the Plateau.
Mrs Edwina Jyi Mang, The Executive Director for WOCCI made this known to Plateau Watch in a press briefing in Jos, Plateau State on Friday 5th of January, 2023.
WOCCI is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering communities through strategic interventions in Health, Peace, Education, Humanitarian and Socio-Economic development. This initiative is being actively supported by Plateau State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (PLASCHEMA) over the years.
Mrs Edwina Mang elaborated, saying that farmers, commodities traders, artisans, and numerous others who drive the economy frequently go without essential healthcare because they cannot afford the annual premium, which is unacceptable. As a result, WOCCI has demanded that the Plateau state government, communities, and all stakeholders work together to close the healthcare gap.
She disclosed that “PLASCHEMA has demonstrated a commitment to providing citizens with quality health services while reducing the burden of out-of-pocket spending. Despite their efforts, challenges persist, particularly in reaching the informal sector, including local farmers, vendors, riders and artisans who rely on daily income. PLASCHEMA requires urgent support to ensure these individuals are included in the health insurance scheme, fostering easy access to affordable health services”.
“The agency has over the years initiated efforts to sensitize Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and engage with communities to promote awareness and understanding of health insurance scheme. Staff and management of PLASCHEMA have identified the informal sector as a primary challenge and in response, they have created flexible plans to accommodate the financial constraints of this informal sector” she added.
To improve, WOCCI proposes a comprehensive intervention in collaboration with PLASCHEMA to enhance internal capacity for accountability and access in order to better serve the vital informal sector. Engaging Communities ensures that everyone recognises the value and accessibility of healthcare, as well as pushing for legislative reforms such as making equity fund allocations statutory and supporting affordable healthcare for all. WOCCI thinks that by collaborating closely with PLASCHEMA, they can overcome the obstacles to achieving universal health coverage and ensure that every citizen, particularly those in the informal sector, has access to quality treatment without financial barriers.
WOCCI recommends that the Plateau State Government prioritise equity funds, boost healthcare budget allocation, and encourage programmes like CSOs for empowering partnerships. In order to encourage enrolment in the informal sector, PLASCHEMA should additionally proactively award 100 forms at no cost or at a 50% premium to exceptional members in each of the two target Local Government Areas. It is encouraged of elected officials, including senators, members of the House of Representatives, and state assembly members, to provide funding to assist low-income families and voters.
“In solidarity with the value of Universal Health Coverage Day 2023, WOCCI is issuing an urgent call to the plateau state government, local communities, and key stakeholders in the health sector to take decisive and supportive actions in collaboration with PLASCHEMA to expedite the state state’s attainment of universal health coverage (UHC).” According to Mrs. Mang, “the UHC is a critical component in achieving Sustainable Development Goal.”
“As the world commemorated University Health Coverage Day approximately three weeks ago, a sobering reality still reverberates in Plateau State as millions of people are unable to access basic healthcare, caught in a vicious cycle of illness and financial strain.” This is where PLASCHEMA steps in, working to establish a safety net, but significant gaps persist, particularly for the informal sector, which is the lifeblood of our communities”. She added.
The Plateau State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (PLASCHEMA) Director General, who was represented by Mrs. Theresa Gofwem, Director of Marketing and Investment, gave assurances that the organisation has been making every effort to achieve its objectives since its establishment in 2019 and that they still have room to improve.
According to Mrs. Gofwem, the organisation wants to make sure that everyone is covered, especially those who work in the informal sector.
She disclosed that PLASCHEMA is ready and willing to collaborate with WOCCI in order to provide logistics, human labour, and other resources that are required to expand the coverage that the informal sector requires.
PLASCHEMA encourages people In some remote areas of Plateau state to key into the Social health insurance scheme because it is note that not everyone has money to acquire the premium package. They also made it easier where individuals can either pay N250 for weekly or N1000 for monthly instead of N12000 for yearly to reduce the burden and financial constraints. Also, the agency brought an initiative to exchange part of grains harvested for the premium packages.
“As an agency we have taken a step by helping people to key into the program. She also note that PLASCHEMA interest is not really the grains given out but letting them know that insuring their health is a priority and they are also our stakeholders. Once they get Themselves insured under the health insurance scheme, they will servers as PLASCHEMA ambassador” she added.
Furthermore, Mrs Gofwem added that going further as an agency, we have decided that no matter where you are, no matter who you are, no matter your status in the society, you have to be under the health insurance scheme.
Mrs Theresa Gofwem concluded by unveiling the 2024 Slogan of PLASCHEMA which is “Get One, Tell One and bring One”.