Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) says the scheme now covers some levels of cancer treatment in its benefit package.
This is contained in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja by Mr. Ayo Osinlu, the Head, Media and Public Relations, NHIS.
It said Sambo made this known when he received Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, the Kebbi State First Lady, during a working visit.
Sambo expressed concern about the high prevalence of cancer, saying NHIS will continue to explore ways of working with public-spirited organisations and individuals to increase support for cancer patients.
“The Scheme seized the opportunity of the review of its operational guidelines in 2012 to remove cancer from the exclusion list of its benefit package.
“Consequently, some levels of cancer surgeries and chemotherapy are now covered under the scheme,’’ the statement read in part.
Sambo mentioned that innovative healthcare financing would open up resources for effective support for patients with capital-intensive conditions such as cancer.
He however called on government and non-governmental organisations involved in creating awareness about cancer and building support for cancer patients to intensify their advocacy.
He said such engagements should be directed to the appropriate authorities and institutions, for institutionalisation of innovative healthcare financing, such as special taxes on smoking and telecommunication.
Sambo added that the revenue from such special taxes alongside proceeds dedicated to funding healthcare would go a long way in supporting vulnerable groups as well as cancer patients in our society.
The NHIS scribe further commended Shinkafi-Bagudu, Founder Medicaid Cancer Foundation, for her enormous work to advance the human course and selfless service over many years to tame the scourge of cancer.
He pledged the commitment of NIHS to work with the First Lady and her foundation, now and in the future, to ensure that cancer does not subdue humanity in our environment.
Responding, the Kebbi state First Lady solicited the support of NHIS in the various activities of the foundation including creating awareness, advocacy, cancer screening and support for victims.
She expressed regret that most patients of cancer do not have the economic capacity to help themselves, stressing that `it is a challenge we must all accept and rise up to confront and together we can do much more’.
Shinkafi-Bagudu is a paediatric consultant, a voice in the fight against cancer, a child’s right champion, whose advocacy for women, children and youth is evident in areas of health, education and skills acquisition.