UCH Chief Medical Director decries low turnout at free open heart surgeries

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Ibadan | 9 January 2015 | 4,273 times

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The Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Professor Temitope Alonge, has decried the low turnout for the 100 free open heart surgeries by the Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Prof Alonge, who stated this while interacting with a group of journalists at the hospital premises, stated that many people with heart conditions still go cap-in-hand, begging for funds for surgeries, perhaps unaware that UCH, Ibadan and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, were under the NHIS programme to provide heart surgeries for people who have enrolled on the insurance scheme.

The NHIS-sponsored initiative, which was also to cover cancer care and brain tumours, Alonge said, was being carried out in the two government hospitals because they regularly do open heart surgeries.

He noted that patients with such heart conditions were always encouraged to join the NHIS in order to access these free services. The don however regretted: “What is unfortunate is that we do not have patients coming forward to make use of these facilities, even though letters were sent out on these, and I personally went to tell the patients at their respective clinics.”

He pointed out that individuals need not be government employees to avail themselves of the facility, adding that they could be eligible for these treatments by enrolling under the community health insurance scheme. While emphasising the importance of health insurance as central to ensuring universal health coverage, including the vulnerable groups in the community, the chief medical director said: “Even the geriatric age groups that joined the hospital’s health insurance scheme for the elderly only pay N18, 000 to benefit from free drugs, free medical consultation, dental care and cataract surgery.”

Besides, he disclosed that the hospital was already trying to partner with Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) to ensure its members benefit from the scheme, aimed at increasing longevity of this age group, adding that when the scheme becomes bigger, the cost might be reduced.

He pleaded with NHIS to extend the period to use the remaining slots for free heart surgeries, cancer treatment and brain tumour, so that more people can benefit.

•Photo shows UCH CMD, Prof. Alonge.

Source: News Express

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