By: Kebba AF Touray
The Director of Health Promotion and Education Modou Njai, said the National Health Insurance Scheme is for everybody.
Njai said this in an interview with this reporter amid the ongoing mass registration on whether the documents tendered for registration process will be kept safe and protected.
“The National Health Insurance is for everybody living in the Gambia and for those who have come to the Gambia. The required valid national documents are passport and drivers license etc., to show that one has been living in the country for at least three months,” he said; that the objective of the mass registration is to ensure everyone has access to a membership card, in order to have access to National Health Insurance and health services at an affordable cost.
“We know out of pocket expenditure is very high and to reduce this, we have to introduce the National Health Insurance Scheme. For you to register for the scheme, one has to get the membership card,” he said. He stated that currently they are registering those who have birth certificates.
“Those who have birth certificates and are 0-17 years, have to be registered by their parents because these are under aged,” he said; that the documents required are an infant welfare card and birth certificate for one to present for the registration, adding that these are documents that are prepared, scanned and stored in the system.
“When you have the National Health Insurance membership card, it will be linked to the National Identification Number (NIN) for both birth certificate and the ID Card so that you have one unique number for both birth certificate, ID Card and the Insurance Card. The birth certificate is for Gambians, but if you are a non-Gambian, you are not supposed to register for the birth certificate, but must present a passport, driving license, to be able to acquire the insurance card. The birth certificate is for Gambians only, but the National Health Insurance is for everybody,” Njai said; that at the onset of the registration, they had an internet challenge which made it difficult to operate their equipment and access their systems. He further said that this slowed the process, making people stand long in queues, but with their daily briefing they are able to address the challenges.
“At the beginning, the people did not have clear information on the registration. This made some people to go for registration with an unstamped attestation from the Alkalo. They did not know that the attestations must be endorsed by the Mayor (in KMC and Banjul) or stamped by the Chief (if it is Kombo North),” he said.
He said they explained to the people that the documents are legal and in dealing with such legal documents, they have to adhere to all the procedures, and as such, he explained to the people when the Alkalo does the attestation, it has to be endorsed by the Mayor or stamped by the chief.
“The insurance will be with the people throughout, and can be used by the person registered at all times in public hospitals. Let us jealously guard our documents, and make sure that the people who are supposed to apply for the birth certificates are Gambians. Let’s not open to foreigners, to take our documents,” he advised.
“The National Health Insurance is purely for everyone, but let’s protect our documents. We have a server where all the documents are kept safe and protected. All the documents taken by the registration teams, will be kept safe, protected and with confidentiality.”