Community-Based Health Insurance: a Lifesaver in Nigeria
Nse Usoro Odo is a 56-year-old farmer who lives with his wife, a small-scale trader, and their children in Ikot Udo Idem community in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. He is also the village town crier and a member of the Village Development Committee (VDC). Members of the VDC are responsible for conveying knowledge and information to community members.
Combined earnings for Odo and his wife are around 700 naira or N700 (less than $3.50 USD) per day.
When the Program to Build Leadership and Accountability in Nigeria's Health System (PLAN-Health), funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief/US Agency for International Development (PEPFAR/USAID) and implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), led a community-based health insurance (CBHI) sensitization program in his hometown, Odo felt compelled as a member of the VDC to subscribe to the CBHI scheme. He could not afford a subscription, so he had to borrow N9,500 ($38) to pay for an annual premium that covered him and his family members. They immediately started accessing health services at the primary health care center in his ward.
Soon after subscribing to the scheme, Odo felt a severe pain in his groin that restricted his movement. He could not work on his farm or carry out his duty as the village town crier.
On a visit to the primary health center, he was referred to the cottage hospital, where he was diagnosed with a hernia. He had surgery and was hospitalized for eight days. Odo accrued a total hospital bill of N70,500 ($353), but because he was insured, he did not have to pay anything out-of-pocket.
Odo recovered rapidly after his surgery and resumed his normal activities quickly. He is now a strong advocate for the CBHI scheme and has been encouraging his community members to register.
At the cottage hospital, I was treated as a king. Imagine me, who has no food to eat. Where would I have gotten the money to pay the bills? I thank God for saving me through this CBHI scheme.