Nigeria to implement Emergency Medical System and Ambulance Scheme (NEMSAS)
The Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has set up a committee to implement the National Emergency Medical System and Emergency Ambulance Scheme (NEMSAS) after the recent approval of the project by the National Council on Health. The committee, Dr Osagie Ehanire said, will ensure that the assets and resources of the private sector are pulled to complement those of the Federal Government to bring about NEMSAS since according to him, the project is all “about public service” and that the assets and funds at the disposal of the Government cannot implement this very needed project that could be found elsewhere but in Nigeria, “We can’t set up NEMSAS relying on Government assets. We want to use all assets available, public and private sector”, said Dr Ehanire. Dr Ehanire called a meeting with the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) and the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners (AGPMN) at the Federal Ministry of Health, on Friday, 21 August 2020, where he listened to the presentations of the Guild’s President, Professor Femi Dokun Babalola and that of the Chairman, National Emergency Treatment Committee (NEMTC)/NEMSAS, Dr Felix Ogedengbe and contributions of others present before his intervention.
The Guild’s president, Professor Femi Dokun Babalola’s presentation, summarised the direction of the minds of the two professionals groups invited to discuss the issues of the day.
They both expressed solidarity with the Honourable Minister of Health on the idea of NEMSAS and supported that the private sector be carried along. Their submission is that “About 60 to 70 percent of all consultations and emergencies do occur in that sphere.”
The Guild’s president said “members would want the followings to be considered and put in place:
i. A guarantee of payment for services” rendered as the previous experience is such that after verifiably completion of the assigned projects, Health Management Organisations (HMOs) and the National Health Insurance (NHIS) have been owing his members;
ii. A mutually agreed tariff system of payment for services rendered to emergencies that do present in private hospitals as well as clear details of the timing and compensations for defaults on either sides and
iii. For those who invest in ambulances, payment of a basic periodic maintenance cost in situations where the ambulance is either not utilized or is underutilised, may also be considered.
They sought for the project to be partly funded by the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), which along with the NEMSAS, recently got the approval of the National Council on Health (NCH) that guidelines for sharing funding of basic health care for Nigerians from:
(a) Sn annual grant from the Federal Government of Nigeria of not less than one per cent (1 percent) of its Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF)
(b) Grants by international donor partners
(c) Funds from any other sources, inclusive of the private sector.
The argument put forward by professionals at the meeting is that virtually all medical issues of Nigerians are “emergency issues” because, as he said, “Average Nigerian will wait till his health issue becomes an emergency before seeking medical help.”
While intervening, the Honourable Minister of State, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora. has said of NEMSAS that it is an idea whose time has come and that he knows that there are some challenges that are ever present in the health system in Nigeria and that the challenges will also only present at the initial stages of NEMSAS. He endorsed the idea of starting with Federal Capital Territory and parts of Nassarawa State but that collective effort is needed to sustain it.
Dr Ehanire emphasised the need to have the required funds and resources for NEMSAS got from beyond the resources of FG and States’ Governments saying that “it is the private sector that has the hospitals, the expertise, the ambulances and the management experience that could be drawn from to ensure the success of the project.”
He reminded all that NEMSAS is “about public service to save many avoidable lives that have been lost due to auto accident emergencies, maternal and other life-threatening emergencies” and declared that a follow up committee will have to work out details of getting NEMSAS underway.
Source: APO Group on behalf of Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria.