Senate confirms Kelechi Ohiri’s appointment as DG NHIA 

282

The Nigerian Senate has ratified Dr Kelechi Ohiri’s appointment as Director General of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), previously NHIS.

This confirmation comes four months after President Tinubu appointed him as the Director General of the Insurance Authority in October 2023.

Dr Kelechi Ohiri, Director-General of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), addressed the Senate Committee on Health during his screening on Tuesday, providing insight into Nigeria’s present health insurance coverage.

Ohiri cited a troubling statistic, noting, “The numbers we have show that less than seven percent of Nigerians are protected, are covered.”
He emphasised that this figure has stayed below 10% since the commencement of health insurance initiatives, showing that significant improvements are required to attain universal healthcare coverage in Nigeria.
Ohiri identified major elements contributing to limited coverage, including challenges with policy framework, awareness, and trust.
He admitted that health insurance was previously voluntary, but with the enactment of the NHIA Act in 2022, it became mandatory.
Ohiri emphasised the role of the mandate in driving and improving coverage, emphasising that for insurance to be effective, the obligatory part is critical.
The NHIA DG voiced concern about the lack of understanding of health insurance as a viable tool for financial protection. He ascribed some of the obstacles to cultural reasons and emphasised the importance of extended efforts to educate Nigerians about the benefits of health insurance.

Ohiri noted that nearly 70% of Nigerians continue to face the financial burden of healthcare through out-of-pocket expenditures, leaving them exposed to economic shocks and rising healthcare prices.

He pushed for bringing a bigger section of the population under health insurance, emphasising that this action would greatly increase coverage and provide Nigerians’ financial safety.

In October 2023, President Bola Tinubu appointed Dr. Kelechi Ohiri as Director-General of the National Health Insurance Authority. In November 2023, he formally took over as DG, succeeding Prof MN Sambo.