Awka – Anambra State Government has launched a Mobile Technology Health Insurance Platform and Data Operations Centre, an electronic wallet for the state Health Insurance Agency, ASHIA to cater for the health needs of the people.
The launch followed a two day official visit of the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon and officials of World Health Organization, UNICEF, WHO and European Union, EU, to the state.
Among members of the delegation who visited several projects undertaken by the state government were the WHO country representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Molondo and Chief Field Officer “A” UNICEF Enugu, Mr Ibrahim Kahlil Conteh, among others.
With the successful launch, Anambrarians can now access healthcare through the ASHIA scheme, by punching in USSD code *100*1# on their mobile phones.
Speaking at the occasion, Governor Willie Obiano said ASHIA has improved the ease with which Anambra people access medicare, describing it as an innovation and a legacy project of his administration.
“What we had envisioned with the ASHIA was to address the challenge of health financing which our people face on a consistent basis due to paucity of funds. Digitizing its processes has been an ongoing process aimed at ensuring that our people access the services of the agency without stress,” he said.
Obiano urged wealthy Anambra citizens who are yet to buy into the ASHIA initiative, to do so, noting that spending out of pocket can be quite challenging.
In his speech, Mr. Kallon, harped on the need to enact measures to ensure sustainability of the ASHIA initiative and to target the most vulnerable.
Speaking earlier while commissioning a Data Operations Centre located at the Ministry of Health, Jerome Udoji State Secretariat, Awka, Mr Kallon commended the Anambra State Government, for the reforms made by the administration in the health sector, stating that the data operations center is strategic in making informed decisions and policies so as to drive a better health care access for Anambra people.
“The Centre meets international best practices and I want to encourage other states to visit Anambra and copy the reforms the state has implemented in the health sector especially the model of the Data Operations Centre. There is the need for the government to make deliberate efforts to ensure that this initiative is sustained beyond the present administration,” he advised.
On his part, the Chief Field Officer “A” UNICEF Enugu, Mr Conteh expressed satisfaction with the level of technology being maximized by the agency to give health insurance to Anambrarians, promising to buy health premium for the aged in the state.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala who revealed that other states now come to Anambra to understudy the adoption model of ASHIA, thanked the Governor for supporting the initiative which he said, gave rise to the success story of the state health sector.
Dr Okpala said the visit was necessary for the United Nations Resident Cordinator in Nigeria to have a first view of the projects the Anambra State Government has carried out and implemented through her ongoing partnership with the international body and her affiliates such as the World Health Organization, the UNICEF and the European Union.
“The partnership between the United Nations and the State Government has yielded so many benefits to Anambra state, especially in ensuring quicker and easier access to quality health care to the citizens of the State. I want to thank Mr Kallon for his support and for the funding provided by the United Nations to Anambra State Government,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of ASHIA, Dr. Simeon Onyemaechi who joined virtually said the Governor mandated them to give quality and accessible healthcare to ndi Anambra with equity in mind, which has culminated in establishment of topnotch models by the Agency.
Dr. Onyemaechi pointed out that with the electronic wallet, once the enrollee pays his or her premium of twelve thousand naira which can be done in installments, such a person can then begin to access the scheme.
He explained that from next week, outlets where their vouchers will be sold, will begin to spring up across the state, but emphasized that it can also be accessed with ATM Cards.
Demonstration of the working of the USSD, enrolments of the aged, people living with HIV, single mothers, among others, featured during the event.
The event climaxed with the decoration of Governor Obiano and Commissioner of Health Dr Okpala as Champions of Sustainable Development Goals by the delegation.