Mr. Lekan Ewenla, National Publicity Secretary, Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria, has revealed that the suspended National Health Insurance Scheme boss, Prof. Usman Yusuf, ran activities of the agency as if it was his private business.
Ewenla said that the NHIS boss did not understand the operations and the regulatory functions of the scheme.
Ewenla, who spoke with newsmen in Lagos yesterday, also faulted the appointment of Yusuf as the Executive Secretary.
“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.”
Ewenla, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Ultimate Health Management Services Limited, said the fact that Yusuf was not the only executive secretary to be saddled with allegations of corruption at the agency showed that the NHIS was facing fundamental operational problems.
To correct the anomalies bedevilling the scheme, he noted that the Federal Government must remove the NHIS as the managers of the scheme’s fund; establish a National Health Commission, create the National Health Fund while also making health insurance compulsory for all.
“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.”