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Health insurance underway for senior citizens, retirees – Omokaro

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The National Senior Citizens Centre is packaging a health insurance scheme, to cater for the health needs of senior citizens in the country.

The Director-General of the centre, Dr Emem Omokaro, made the announcement in Abuja on Sunday at an interview session of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Omokaro said that the management of the centre was working currently to enlist stakeholders, who would sponsor the scheme for the benefit of the senior folks.

“Access to a health care is free in some developed countries because someone has paid for it.

“The challenge in Nigeria is not to say that this is free. It is who is paying for the service and how sustainable can the payment be?”

She disclosed that the Federal Government had set up a committee to revise the National Social Protection Policy, to take special care of senior citizens.

“The 2017 National Social Protection Policy has been undergoing revision for nearly a year.

“We have identified all categories of older persons and we have noticed that the policy did not have an implementation working document and there was no cost attached to it.

“It was just a guiding document that the present administration picked and then identified some pillar programmes and embarked on.

“Right now as I speak, the final draft of the policy has been brought to an inter-ministerial committee for review.’’

The director-general pointed out that in some societies senior citizens were given near free medical care, noting however, that whatever that was given free to the senior folks must have been paid for by some sponsors.

Omokaro advised that while doing a comparison of countries one should try to determine if the care provided was by legislation or via a trust fund.

“What is the basic health package? Have they paid for you when you can approach the hospital and ask: can I have surgery, can I check my heart and do full body-check?

“What is the content of the healthcare that is free? So we thank this administration for now embarking on revising the policy.’’

The director-general assured that health insurance, which senior citizens and retirees were not enjoying would soon become a thing of the past.

“After you have retired now, you will realize how much you have over-worked your body and how your body will start demanding something from you. That is when you need your health.”

Omokaro revealed that the ministerial committee, which she was a member of before her current appointment as director-general did a good job of appraising the issues – relating to who pays for healthcare?

“All these questions have been answered in the report which is going to be submitted to the Federal Government soon.

“I know that with the political commitment of this administration, older persons and anybody who retires will soon get the service.’’

She described older citizens as a diverse segment of the population, who should deserve health benefits as their dividend for being citizens of the nation. (NAN)

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