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Linus Awute

Awute chairs Ministerial Committee on Health Insurance for the Elderly

Linus Awute

Former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, has been appointed to chair a new 20-member Ministerial Committee for the provision of health insurance for retirees and elderly Nigerians by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

A letter conveying the appointment date November 12, 2020 with reference number NC/HEPIQ-C/2020/40/I, and signed by the incumbent Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, A. M. Abdullahi reads: “I write to convey the approval of the Honourable Minister of Health for your appointment as Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for the Provision of Health Insurance for the Retirees and Elderly in Nigeria”.

The appointment which took effect immediately upon inauguration on November 30, 2020, also reads: “I urge you to apply the best of your ability for this very important National assignment. I believe you will justify the confidence reposed in you by this appointment”.

Acknowledging the appointment in a letter dated November 23, 2020, Mr. Awute said he was delighted to accept the appointment just as he promised to do his best to deliver on expectation.

“Thank you for such consideration and for the confidence reposed in me by this noble appointment. As a retired civil servant who served this country at the highest level of Nigerian bureaucracy, I can readily understand the importance of this assignment and how it reflects a commitment by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to improve the condition of retirees and elderly of this great country who face untold health challenges”, Awute stated.

Members of the committee include the Executive Secretary National Health Insurance Scheme Prof. Muhammad Nasiru Sambo as co-Chairman, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affair, Disaster Management and Social Development, Permanent Secretary Service Welfare and Pension Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Director Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Salma Anas-Kolo, Director General, PENCOM, Executive Secretary, PTAD, Chairman, Forum of Chairmen of Boards of Teaching Hospitals, Director/Head GASHE, FMOH, Head, Elderly Healthcare Programme, FMOH and General Manager, Formal Sector (NHIS).

Others are the General Manager, Informal Sector (NHIS), General Manager, QSA (NHIS), Representative of Council for the Retired Permanent Secretaries, Representative of Association of Retired Civil Servants of Nigeria, President, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Ortho-Geriatrician Expert, Prof. Temitope Alonge, (UCH), Ibadan, Geriatric Expert, Prof. Akoria Obehi (UBTH), Benin City, President, Coalition of Societies of Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN)/ Association of Older Persons, Executive Director, Dave Omokaro Foundation (DOF), The representative of WAQF Foundation, Sokoto and Representative of Health Care Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN).

Speaking at the inauguration of the committee, Dr. Ehanire listed the terms of reference for the committee to include “to assess the current situation of health Insurance coverage and access to health care for retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria; to develop a national framework for the effective health insurance coverage of retirees and senior citizens; to make recommendations to the Honorable Minister of Health on the potential resource mobilization as well as other mechanisms for the successful implementation of the framework and to undertake any other activity that will facilitate the Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens in Nigeria”.

The Minister also stated that “the elderly and retirees of 60 years and above make up 6 to 7 per cent, being 15 million out of Nigeria’s population, and the size of some countries. The elderly may be facing glaring health challenges, over and beyond the wear and tear of ageing, and additional strain from financial challenges and psycho-social issues of adjusting to a retiree’s life. Sooner or later, problems of cognition set in slowly.

“The covd-19 pandemic has made it obvious that about 60–80 per cent of older persons have pre-existing medical conditions requiring regular medications. Depending solely on a pension allowance that is barely enough to meet basic household needs, they experience an extra burden that defeats the essence of pension and may fall into depression”, he added.

In his speech at the inauguration, Mr. Awute said “we make bold to inform you all that we have accepted this appointment with the utmost aim to justify the confidence reposed in us by the government. We shall be guided by the prescribed Terms of Reference, as issued by the Honourable Minister of Health. We shall also have more reliance on our own sense of responsibility to generate the team spirit that would foster the deep patriotic devotion required for our assignment.”

“Hopefully, we shall start today to set the matrix for achieving result by action. We hereby promise to deliver result not only by way of mere recommendations as most committees do. We shall, in addition to recommendations to government, come up with implementation strategies in order to forerun the final commitment of this visionary Initiative. This is what I think will make the difference and it is what I hope to undertake as an additional responsibility, being the Chairman of the committee, as one who is ready to lead with humility on the basis of mutual respect and accountability”, he added.

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