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MamaYe and Lagos promote health insurance for pregnant women and newborns

The MamaYe movement continues to provide and support opportunities to improve maternal and newborn health in Nigeria. Celebrating the MamaYe Day 2017 in Lagos recently, we focused on “Reducing the Burden of Out-of Pocket Payment for Pregnant Women by Ensuring Universal Access to Health Care Delivery Through State Health Insurance Scheme”.

The occasion provided a platform for the government and the people of Lagos State to discuss the implementation of Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme.

Dr. Jide Idris, Lagos State Health Commissioner

Dr. Jide Idris, the Commissioner of Health for Lagos State, said that the health insurance policy introduced in Lagos State would help to safeguard the lives of pregnant women.

While several States in Nigeria are introducing and institutionalising Free Maternal and Newborn Health policies, Dr. Idris said that free health care services is not sustainable in Lagos State.

As the health insurance scheme in Lagos State is compulsory, the people of the State need a platform such as the one MamaYe provided to be adequately educated, so that there may be full cooperation when the programme kicks off. Dr. Idris said “We must now mobilise our people to understand health insurance scheme to reduce burden of out-of-pocket spending.”

Guests from the Lagos State Ministry of Health

Mr. Soyesi, MamaYe activist and the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Community Based Health Insurance Scheme, Ikosi-Isheri who shared an experience on mobilising his community to embrace health insurance, said that it was not easy convincing people to embrace health insurance to ease financial burden on them when their wives are pregnant. "It is easier for people to buy clothes and attend parties than contribute little to insure their health", he said.

Adenike Badiora, MamaYe State Coordinator, Lagos, describing the work of MamaYe in Lagos State

Discussing the “Rights, Duties and Obligations of the Citizens for the Insurance Scheme”, Barrister Ayo Adebusoye, who represented Civil Society Organisations in Lagos State during the MamaYe Day celebration, said that the government has made the registration for health insurance in Lagos State obligatory, but the people need education prior to the implementation of the scheme.

Even though the health insurance scheme became a law in Lagos State in May 2015, the public however needs a very good understanding of the process and the benefits before implementation. MamaYe is helping to achieve this by interacting with community members through Community Development Committees (CDC), of which MamaYe activists are members.

Some CDC members

With the celebration of the 2017 edition of MamaYe Day Lagos, precedence has been set for health insurance advocacy to relieve pregnant women of out-of-pocket spending. Dr. Olufemi Olabisi Taiwo, Director, Healthcare Planning, Research and Statistics, Lagos State Ministry of Health, while thanking MamaYe for providing the discussion platform, described the role of the Ministry in the health insurance scheme as advocacy for a wide coverage.

Dr. Olufemi Olabisi Taiwo

MamaYe has enjoyed a good relationship working with the Lagos State Ministry of Health to improve maternal and newborn health. Similarly, the health commissioner said, “We wouldn't have recorded some of our successes in Lagos State without MamaYe.”

The celebration ended with members of the CDCs having a good understanding of the benefits of health insurance, especially for pregnant women, and the reason to work harder to convince their communities to embrace the scheme.

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