By Kachy Madukaego (08034055432)

Imo state Health Insurance Agency was established by an act of Imo state House of Assembly, it was accented in 2018, the law ensures that residents of Imo state who are financially incapacitated through a pre paid mechanism can access health services care in the event of need without suffering financial hardship.

However, the implementation of programmes within the agency has not been optimal until His Excellency Governor Hope Uzodinma through the approval of the honourable minister of health gave credence to the appointment and posting of Dr. Uchenna Ewelike on secondment as the executive secretary and chief executive officer of Imo state health insurance agency in January 2023.

There are four major programmes being implemented by Imo state health insurance agency (IMSHIA)ably led by the Ehime Mbano local government born public health physician Dr. Uchenna Ewelike and his team across all the polling booth in imo state.

First, is the basic health care provision fund, which is an earmarked funding that ensures that volunerable people have access to health care services.

In exclusive interview with the executive secretary of Imo state health insurance agency Dr. Uchenna Ewelike said, “In Imo state we have done the first phase enrolment which we call 1.0, where we enrolled 63,003 people who are currently accessing health care services in the 305 INEC wards in Imo State, we are currently doing the 2.0, our team are in the field to enrol 18,900 volunerable population which includes pregnant women, children under 5 years, the elderly, disabled and very poor people, are those targeted in the basic health care provision fund.

“The second programme is formal sector social health insurance programme, this entails that people in a formalized employment especially those who are paid by the government access health care services , we are currently implementing the programme for imo state civil servants both at the state and local government level, we have empaneled every imo state civil servant into our data base and they are 37,323, the governor Sen. Hope Uzodinma have graciously paid for them to access free healthcare services, in due cause they will be assigned to their various health care providers.

Third, is Imo care health insurance programme, which is part of our design in the last seven months in the state to ensure that people in the informal sector including artisans, self employed people can come and buy insurance, in the event of ill health they can access health care services, we have opened discussion channels with them to intimate them on the need to key into the programme, is #15,000 per person ,per annum and it covers virtually everything that someone who is working with government enjoys.

“This robust benefits also covers consultation, medical interventions, surgical interventions and others, this things are real and we are demonstrating capacity, ordinarily this medical care and surgical interventions will cost over #650,000 but here we discharge patients free because of their insurance and that is what shared prosperity government of imo state mandate us to do, which is to ensure that people have access to health services without much difficulty in the event of ill health.

“The fourth programme is the T-ship which covers students in the tertiary institutions, we are currently in Imo state university and working to expand to other state owned tertiary institutions.

“As at end of August 2023 Imo state health insurance agency have treated above 85,000 people in the 305 INEC wards, out of which we have over 400 deliveries ,200 surgical interventions and least of the surgeries we have done will cost nothing less than #250,000 in the open market, we have done Cesarean sections, laminectomies, herniorrhaphies prostrate surgeries, cataract surgeries and so on, recently at imo state university medical center where we have a Public Private Partnership (PPP)
arrangement for our T-Ship four cataract surgery were performed free of charge and patients were discharged, we started implementation since April 3rd 2023 and since then we have be implementing in health centers across the 305 INEC wards in Imo state, Dr. Ewelike revealed.

“Considering that health insurance programme implementation in Imo state is new, initially people do not believe that the programme is real whereas we were begging people in our 1.0 enrolment but they refused, only 63,003 people managed to enrol, currently in our 2.0 enrolment crowd are mobbing our staffs at the enrolment centers all over the state, unfortunately 2.0 is not as big as 1.0.

” However , we are happy that imo state people have started complying, in one of our specialist hospital were a woman delivered twins,her appeal was that the programme continues and prayed that Imolites sees the merit of this intervention programmes being established by the government Distinguished Sen. Hope Uzodinma in Imo state, he concluded.

One of the beneficiary in the ongoing Imo state health insurance agency programme Mrs Stella Kalu from umueze uzoagba autonomous community in ikeduru local government area confirmed that his 14 years old son master Abel Steven who suffered hepatitis, malaria 2 plus with swollen liver and shortage of blood received free treatment at ezenonim health in the community.

Narrating her ordeal, Mrs Stella Kalu said, “we were at the market square when we heard about the health insurance form which we filled, later,I took my son to our health center due to his illness and they gave him drugs, he was lacking blood and they gave him blood, we spent almost a week in health center without paying any kobo.

” i don’t know what I would have done if not for Imo state health insurance agency programme because we have no money to pay medical bills and I want to thank governor Hope Uzodinma for remembering those of us in the rural community who can afford medical care, I encourage him and pray that God will protect him so that he continue his good work in taking care of the sick.

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