COVID-19: NGO urges FG, states to waive healthcare bills for women, children

An international NGO, Save the Children, has called on the Federal, State and Local Governments to abolish all forms of payment in accessing healthcare services at public health facilities by the poorest women and children.

The organization’s Advocacy Advisor, Mr. Isah Ibrahim, made the appeal in a statement made available in Kaduna on Friday.

Ibrahim explained that the measure would address barriers to healthcare services by the poorest families, following the devastating effect of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on poor households.

He pointed out that the current lockdown in most parts of the country, to prevent further spread of the virus, has significantly affected the financial status of poor households.

According to him, the special waiver of out-of-pocket spending for healthcare services for women and children will remove the financial barriers to healthcare among women and children from poor households.

“Reducing financial and non-financial barriers to healthcare services is very crucial following the continued lockdown and depleting income generation in households with no end in sight.

“Due to the current loss of income among citizens, the vulnerable groups particularly women and children will find it difficult to pay for healthcare services when ill.

“As such, the government at all levels should immediately extend social welfare support and protection schemes to risk households facing serious loss of income due to the necessary Coronavirus prevention measures.

“This will ensure continues access to quality healthcare services by women and children in public health facilities.”

Ibrahim commended the federal and state governments for the proactive measures being taken to prevent the spread of the virus among the people.

He particularly lauded the massive sensitization campaigns on how to reduce exposure to COVID-19, especially the social distancing interventions such as quarantine, isolation, temporary closure of schools and ban on mass gatherings and non-essential travel.

He also commended the federal government for the ongoing disbursement of cash transfer to the poorest of the poor in the country to alleviate their suffering from the current hash economic condition.

He equally appealed for a child-sensitive cash transfer policy that would enable the poorest families to access steady income for better livelihood and ensure the development and survival of their children and family at large.

“Similarly, while the recent reduction of petroleum price is good, it may not have much impact on the poorest household.

“Therefore, given a waiver for all forms of payment in accessing healthcare services at public health facilities will have a lasting positive effect on the lives of the poor,” Ibrahim said. (NAN)

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