Going forward, Ewenla said the Federal Government must not let the NHIS manage the scheme’s funds anymore.
The suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, has been accused of running the affairs of the agency like his private business.
Berating Yusuf’s conduct, the National Publicity Secretary, Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN), Mr. Lekan Ewenla, said that the Professor should not have been appointed to head the agency in the first place.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, suspended Yusuf on Friday, July 14, following allegations of corruption against him.
Speaking to Punch in Lagos on Tuesday, July 18, Ewenla said Yusuf does not understand the operations and the regulatory functions of the scheme.
He said, “Before now, a lot of petitions had been written about the attitude and conduct of the scheme since the Executive Secretary took over last year. He was going to distort the operations of the NHIS for the public sector.
“He ran NHIS like his private enterprise. He didn’t have the power to award contracts worth more than N2.5m but because there was no governing council, he went beyond that figure.
“Many of the issues were not clear to him. He was going to remove HMOs and focus on paying hospitals instead of regulating the scheme.”
According to him, the NHIS itself is facing fundamental operational problems, more so for the fact that other top officials of the agency have been accused of corruption.
Proffering solutions to the anomalies, Ewenla said the Federal Government must not let the NHIS manage the scheme’s funds anymore.
He advised the government to establish a National Health Commission and create the National Health Fund.
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Ewenla also wants health insurance to be made compulsory for all.
He added, “Government needs to take health sector appointments off the political radar. Do interviews with experts on the field and listen to professional recommendations before you choose a head.
“Every executive secretary at the agency has been removed because of corruption.
“When they are appointed, they forget their regulatory role and want to take over the fund because it is a lot of money. In Yusuf’s case, he misinterpreted his role.”
Controversies have trailed Yusuf’s suspension as the NHIS boss claimed that his suspension was a witch hunt because he refused to grant monetary requests to Adewole.
But Adewole, whose ministry supervises the NHIS, insisted that he suspended Yusuf to allow uninterrupted investigations into the fraud allegations against him.
The House of Representatives, which is siding with Yusuf, has summoned Adewole but in the meantime, the minister was ordered to recall the NHIS boss.
However, Instead of recalling Yusuf, the Minister on Monday, July 17, suspended eight more top officials of the NHIS.