Thursday, April 15, 2021

Finance Minister tables National Health Insurance Bill

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Finance Minister, Mambury Njie, yesterday tabled a Bill entitled National Health Insurance Bill 2020, on behalf of the Health Minister, for lawmakers to scrutinize, consider and adopt.

In introducing the Bill, he stated that the Gambia Government initiated the introduction of the national health insurance scheme, with a view to moving towards achieving universal health coverage and is expected to benefit the population, by eliminating or reducing out of pocket expenditure for health.

Minister Njie explained that the scheme provides financial risk protection, increased access to quality healthcare services and improvement of the overall health system for better service delivery.

He also said that the scheme has three functions namely revenue collection from various sources, pooling of funds and spreading of risk across larger population growth and allocation or use of funds to purchase services from public and private providers on healthcare.

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He underscored that in the Gambia, the available statistics indicates that over 60 percent of total health funding comes from donors, international health development partners, raising challenges of sustainability and productability of funding to other sector.

In addition he said: “cost of providing healthcare, continues to rise, due to increasing demands, changes in diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, inflation and currency fluctuation”.

He admitted that funding to the health sector is still below the Abuja declaration of 15 percent annual budget allocation.

Minister Njie pointed out that section 216 subsection (4) of the1997 constitution, states that the state shall endeavour to facilitate equal access to clean and safe water, adequate health and medical services, habitable shelter, sufficient food and security to all persons.

He remarked: “To fulfil this, the 2016-2017 national health accounts survey recommends that Gambia needs to address the high level of out of pocket expenditure, in order to protect households against finance risk, by devising prepayment mechanisms such as national social health insurance scheme”.

He said the scheme makes provision for the establishment of a national health insurance authority to implement a health insurance scheme and establish a fund, which will pay for cost of healthcare system to members of the scheme, as well as provision for private health insurance scheme.

Lawmakers applauded the Minister for coming up with the scheme as it will help the country in the efforts to provide quality healthcare services to the populace.

The bill was subsequently referred to the Assembly Business Committee for committal. Sitting continues on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.

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