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Reps Query NHIS Over Use of N152.4m for Face Masks, Others



NHIS delists 23 HMOs

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has queried the spending of N152.4 million by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to procure facemasks, hand sanitisers, protective wears and hand gloves during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

At a public hearing on monitoring revenue generation by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Abuja, the committee said it was greatly concerned by this development.

A member of the team, Mr Nicholas Ossai, said that documents available showed that some amount spent did not align with its intended purpose.

For instance, the committee said there was an issue with the N2.09 million purchase of toners and the N2.4 million expended on diesel on monthly basis for its head office in Utako, Abuja and office annex in Wuse 11, Abuja.

Responding, Executive Secretary of NHIS, Mr Nasri Sambo, explained that the agency was a strategic purchasing agency by its mandate.

He said the agency also provided more items under its social corporate responsibility for some social workers on the frontline during the peak of the pandemic.

“On the huge expenditure to tunes of millions with respect to the COVID-19 items, we are a National Health Insurance Scheme, we are supposed to be a strategic purchasing agency by mandate.

“During COVID-19, there was a plan of the Ministry of Health on sectorial response to COVID-19 and because we are dealing with healthcare facilities, we all know that at the beginning of COVID-19, most of the healthcare workers abandoned their duty posts because they don’t have items for their protection.

“As part our corporate social responsibility, we identified first line organisations like police and so on; we gave them those items and we also recognised hospitals that have a huge enrollment of NHIS enrollees and we supplied them with these items.

“All the documents are available if the lawmakers need them; this expenditure is not restrictive to NHIS, we have been directed to ensure the protection of our people,” he said.

On the amount spent on diesel, Mr Sambo said the scheme suffered erratic electricity supply within the period of expenditure, adding that there was the need to maintain a cooling system in both offices in Abuja to secure huge infrastructure that required cooling.

“In respect to the toners, NHIS has a total of 38 state offices, 9 zonal offices as well as two offices at Abuja; when we are buying these items, we are not buying them as one toner per purchase.

“We buy them within the threshold to furnish the state and zonal offices that is why you see that the consumption rate is high,” he explained.

Earlier, the executive secretary gave highlights of the revenue generation and remittance of the scheme between 2019 and 2021.

According to him, money generated from the addition of extra dependents enrolee in 2019 was N33.81 million; N12.88 million in 2020 and N6.8 million so far generated in 2021.

He said the accreditation and registration of Health Management Organisations (HMOs) generated N47.35 million in 2019, N45.5 million in 2020 and N11.49 million so far in 2021.

Mr Sambo said the agency also generated from the tenders paid by contractors N1.61 million in 2019, N620, 000 in 2020 and N700,000 so far in 2021.

“The total revenue generation for 2019 was N32.14 million, for 2020 is N58.9 million and 2021 is N18.5 million.

“We have remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of N20.5 million which represent 25 per cent of the total revenue for 2019.

“We have remitted N14.7 million which represents 25 per cent for 2020 and for 2021, we have remitted N4.46 million and all the evidence of remittances are encapsulated in this submission,” he said.

The Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Mr Saidu Abdullahi, who presided over the session, said the hearing was not to witch hunt but to ensure accountability and block revenue leakages.

Mr Abdullahi said the committee would not hesitate to activate relevant provisions of the law if any agency of government failed to appear before it.

“We have just started the revenue monitoring session for the year 2021. The objective is to ensure that we shore up the revenue generation of the country.

“As I stated that the country has the capacity to fund the budget size of N13 to N15 trillion, all we need to do is to work together with the executive, particularly the MDAs to ensure that we block all areas of leakages and ensure they are responsible to the consolidated revenue fund.

“We have just started and we expect to have taken more agencies today but unfortunately, just the NHIS turned up; this exercise is not a child’s play.

“It is in the spirit of measuring the performances of the agencies, in the spirit of ensuring that we mobilise more resources so that the executive will be able to fund the capital without necessarily looking at the angle of borrowing which has become the easiest way out of managing our budget.

“We expected to have Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PTDF) Nigeria Oil Spillage and Detection Response Agency and even the Export Processing Council, but only NHIS turned up.

“We will not take it lightly with any agency. It is not child’s play. We are here to make this country work and for us to do it, we have to work in collaboration, we have to work collectively for the good of our people,” he said.

He directed the clerk of the committee to re-invite the agencies that failed to appear, saying that should they fail to appear, appropriate sections of the constitution would be invoked against them.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.


UK Gives Nigeria £2m to Strengthen Health Workforce



health workforce

By Adedapo Adesanya

The United Kingdom has committed £2 million in grants to support Nigeria in strengthening her health workforce in the vision of achieving Universal Health Coverage.

The grant will cover two years to support the Nigerian government in optimizing the health workforce’s performance, quality, and impact through evidence-informed policies and strategies.

It is part of a larger UK support plan to boost and support healthcare staff recruitment and retention in three African countries – Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

In a statement, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Richard Montgomery, said, “A skilled, well-motivated and adequate health workforce is critical for Nigeria to #EndPreventableDeaths and build resilience against global threats.

“This UK International Development funding aligns with the Nigerian health workforce strategic plan and will help the country upskill its workers and improve health outcomes in the long run.”

The 2-year HRH project aims to support the government at federal and state levels and support regulatory bodies, professional associations, and other key stakeholders to develop transformative strategies for scaling up the quantity and quality of health workers, including competency-based curricula development and reviews.

It was announced that it will help to align investment in HRH with the current and future needs of the population and health systems; strengthen the capacity of institutions, including regulatory bodies, for effective public policy stewardship, leadership, and governance, optimize health workers’ retention, equitable distribution, and performance and strengthen the management of Health workforce data for monitoring and accountability. The project will implement interventions in Nigeria.

The project will draw on the technical capacity of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strengthen health systems, including experience in implementing similar projects with appreciable results in the past.

Implementation at state levels, focusing on six states of Cross River, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos, will build on the presence and technical support being provided to state governments through the 37 WHO sub-national offices in Nigeria.

“The strength of every health system reflects the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce, which are necessary to deliver quality services to address population health needs,” says Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria.

“Through the UK government’s generous support through WHO, we will deploy the technical support from the three levels of the organization to support the development of evidence-based policies and strategies, capacity building and management for improved planning and management of Nigeria’s health workforce”.

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Helium Gets $30m to Spread Healthcare Finance Offering



Helium Health $30m

By Adedapo Adesanya

Helium Health, a Nigerian healthtech company, has raised a fresh $30 million to expand the reach of its fintech product, HeliumCredit.

The company, which provides Software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools, financing, and insights to healthcare providers and public health organizations, will use the latest injection to drive growth in some of its expanding verticals.

The round was led by AXA IM Alts with participation from Capria Ventures, Angaza Capital, Anne Wojcicki (Founder of 23&Me), and Flatworld Partners. Existing investors Global Ventures, Tencent, Ohara Pharmaceuticals, LCY Group, WTI, and AAIC also participated in the round.

This is the first of its kind since the healthtech company secured a $10 million Series A in 2020 and 18 months following a rare Africa-GCC deal involving UAE-based healthcare provider-patient interaction platform Meddy.

“We believe in a future where good healthcare is a reality for all Africans, not just the few. We are deeply committed to supporting both private healthcare providers and public health stakeholders with finance, technology, and data to achieve that vision. We are delighted to have such seasoned healthcare investors accompany us on our journey,” Mr Adegoke Olubisi, the CEO and co-founder of the company, said.

In this growth phase, Helium Health also looks to deepen its collaborations within the public health and global health communities, another core focus of its work. Global health funders contribute about 15 per cent of total health expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa and play a critical role in tackling the continent’s leading causes of death, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and maternal and child mortality.

On the part of the investors, Mr Jonathan Dean, Head of Impact Investing at AXA IM Alts, said, “We are delighted to invest, through AXA IM Alts’ impact investing strategies, in Helium Health’s mission of providing digital solutions to improve the quality and efficacy of health services in resource-constrained environments, whilst also directly equipping health sector enterprises with affordable financial services.”

“This investment directly contributes to AXA IM Alts’ broader impact goals of improving financial inclusion and reducing inequalities globally,” he added.

“We have seen first-hand the evolution of Helium Health over the years. The leadership team deeply understands Africa’s healthcare sector and knows how to build products that meet its nuanced needs,” added Mr Noor Sweid, Managing Partner, Global Ventures.

Launched in 2020, HeliumCredit has extended more than $3.5 million in credit to over 200 healthcare facilities in Nigeria, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and diagnostics centres, which have used the loans to purchase medical equipment, medications in bulk and expand their locations. With easier access to credit, healthcare providers can increase patient retention, increase revenues, and improve the quality of care.

Helium Health will also launch HeliumCredit in Kenya this year, increasing its lending portfolio to 1,000 healthcare facilities by 2024 in partnership with the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

Helium Health aims to be the leading technology partner for public health entities by supporting and implementing their programs and strategies in Africa. Helium Health has received funding from organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers to execute projects under their maternal health program strategies in the past year.

The company will also continue to scale its SaaS suite for healthcare providers through HeliumOS, its Electronic Medical Records and Hospital Management Information System (EMR/HMIS) solution. HeliumOS helps health facilities of any size or specialty run their operations more efficiently, increase revenues, and improve healthcare delivery.

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HealthXP Unveils App to Revolutionise Healthcare Delivery in Africa



HealthXP myhealthXP

By Adedapo Adesanya

HealthXP Limited, a healthcare technology firm, has introduced a groundbreaking application, myhealthXP, aimed at addressing the healthcare delivery crisis in Africa.

With numerous challenges facing the sector, including brain drain, poor infrastructure, lack of funding, inadequate access to healthcare facilities, and the mismanagement of health records, myhealthXP offers a seamless and innovative approach to healthcare delivery in Africa.

myhealthXP is an on-demand healthcare collaboration platform designed to connect individuals with highly qualified and verified doctors, laboratories, pharmacies, and caregivers. It facilitates efficient and convenient access to quality medical attention regardless of location. Through myhealthXP, Africans can access quality and affordable healthcare at their fingertips.

During the launch event held on May 25, the Keynote Speaker, Mr Eromosele Omomhenle, a Board Member of HealthXP Limited, highlighted the gaps in healthcare delivery and emphasized the role of technology as the future solution.

He emphasized the significant number of medical doctors who have migrated to the United Kingdom, thereby leaving a scarcity of licensed practitioners in Africa.

Similarly, Dr Daniel Omomhenle, a co-founder at HealthXP, expressed the potential for African medical professionals based abroad to leverage myhealthXP in giving back to their society by contributing their expertise to the African healthcare system.

HealthXP’s co-founder, Dr Kayode Ogunleye, stated, “Our aim is to use technology to bridge the gaps in the healthcare sector across Africa. We empower patients to take control of their health records, fostering collaboration between healthcare providers and patients.

“This is the path towards recovery and improved health for our nation. With technology, Africa will not miss the IT revolution, and myhealthXP aims to be at the forefront of this progress, benefiting Nigerians and Africa as a whole.”

Describing the innovation as the “democratization of healthcare,” Mr Seni Williams, Non-Executive Director, NPL Nigeria, emphasized the importance of patients’ control over their health records.

He highlighted the significance of myhealthXP in enabling patients to have total control of their medical information and share it securely with professionals worldwide.

On his part, Mr Israel Ayodele, Head of Product at HealthXP Limited, assured users of the app’s robust security measures and data protection protocols. “We prioritize the security and privacy of your data through end-to-end encryption, strong authentication, secure data storage, regulatory compliance, and user-controlled data sharing. Our commitment to continuously enhance our security measures ensures a safe and trusted environment for your information.”

Closing the event, Ms Comfort Olatunde, Director of Product Marketing, shared her personal experience with Nigeria’s healthcare system, underscoring the need for improved solutions.

She emphasized the user-friendliness of the myhealthXP app, which is now available for iOS users on the Apple Store and Android users on the Google Play Store in select African countries, as well as the US and UK. Comfort reassured users that HealthXP had implemented a thorough verification process for healthcare practitioners, ensuring their qualifications are up to standard. Additionally, plans are underway to expand myhealthXP into other countries across Africa.

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