Nigeria: Community-Based Health Insurance Saves Baby Rosemary’s Life

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Baby Rosemary and her parents in Onuk Essien Udim Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.Photo credit: MSH staff

Chief Victor Joseph Ntuen is village head of Onuk, Ukana clan in Essien Udim Local Government Area (LGA) in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. He and his wife Emem have five children. Their youngest, 11-month-old Rosemary, fell seriously ill in January. She constantly vomited and had diarrhea for over one week. Baby Rosemary was diagnosed with cholera.

Chief Ntuen was devastated at the thought of losing his baby girl to the cholera outbreak ravaging the community. But, they had no money to take Rosemary to the hospital for treatment. He and Emem had just paid their older children’s school fees.

“I would have lost my little baby to cholera, if not for community-based health insurance,” says Chief Ntuen. He had bought family insurance the previous year during a Community-Based Health Insurance Scheme sensitization program, organized by the US Agency for International Development-funded, Management Sciences for Health (MSH)-led Program to Build Leadership and Accountability in Nigeria’s Health System (PLAN-Health) project, now the Leadership, Management and Governance (LMG) Nigeria Project, also led by MSH. 

He took little Rosemary to the Primary Health Centre in Ukana Ikot Ide, Essien Idim Local Government Area, and they were referred to the cottage hospital for treatment. At the cottage hospital, baby Rosemary was admitted for a week and she received quality treatment free of charge.

Chief Ntuen said that when he first bought the insurance in 2015 for 2,400 naira (about $12 USD), he did not understand its importance, but had decided to try it. He said what amazes him the most is that he registered for the insurance with only a small amount of money, but his family receives health benefits from the scheme free of charge.

As a village head, Chief Ntuen has been encouraging his community members to take advantage of the scheme. He has also been advocating for more sensitization in his community and beyond so that many people who have not heard about or subscribed to the scheme can also understand the benefits and participate. Says Chief Ntuen:

My joy knows no bounds because today my daughter has fully recovered, full of life and looking healthy. Thank you to MSH for bringing the insurance scheme to my community. It has really saved many lives and freed us from medical debts.