Efficient health linked to socio-economic dev’t – NHIA boss

The Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Prof. Mohammed Sambo says effecient health insurance is key to driving health outcomes.

Sambo said this in Abuja at the Health Financing Policy Dialogue forum with the theme: “Accelerating the Implementation of NHIA Act to Improve Health Insurance Coverage in Nigeria”.

According to Sambo, said there is a strong link between health, productivity and socio-economic development.

He said that government has a critical role to play in accelerating NHIA implementation by providing adequate funding, and stressed the need to strengthen the governance structure and create an enabling environment for health insurance to thrive.

The NHIA boss said that health financing was incomplete without considering the level of socio-economic development of a country.

He said the country cannot finance health insurance without thinking about innovative ways outside the traditional ways.

“We owe it to ourselves and our fellow Nigerians to develop and maintain the health system that we desire both now and in the future.

“All stakeholders within and outside the health sector must work together to improve health insurance in the country,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria must develop relevant policies to ensure effective utilisation of available resources to ensure equitable access to basic healthcare services that leave no one behind.

Also, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation (BoF), Mr Ben Akabueze said efficient health insurance system remain a crucial mean of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.

Akabueze said this while presenting a paper on “Exploring Innovative Health Financing Mechanisms for the Vulnerable Group Fund,” must include a system for the vulnerable population in the country.

He said there was need for innovative financing mechanisms, especially for those with limited or no means of paying premiums in the country.

According to him, we need reforms or changes in the application of conventional financing sources and introduce systems that help improve the use of the fund.

Akabueze said that financial constraint has remained a barrier to adequate provision for health insurance coverage in most developing countries including Nigeria.

He said that limited budgets from governments and donors have greatly impacted health funding, including the provision for insurance.

“In spite of continuous efforts to rationalise public expenditures, we must keep our eyes on value for money, if we don’t, we will lose public enthusiasm.

“There must be accountability and transparency in implementing health insurance,” he said.

Also, the General Manager, NHIA, Blessing Nienge said since the NHIA Act came into existence in May 2022, a lot of effort had gone into developing a sustainable framework for implementing a mandatory health insurance in Nigeria.

Nienge said this was necessary so that the country would ensure that no one was left behind.

She said that countries implementing mandatory health insurance were moving towards achieving UHC, adding that Nigeria must move quickly to close the gaps and improve health insurance in the country.

Earlier, Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, said that the country has made significant progress on its route to achieving health for all.

“The signing of the NHIA into law which ensured mandatory health insurance for all Nigerians was the right step to boost the journey,” she said.

Ihekweazu said that NHIA was established as part of the country’s efforts to achieve UHC and ensure that Nigerians have access to basic healthcare services, regardless of their income level.

She said this would protect them from the high cost of healthcare services.

Ihekweazu said the implementation of the scheme has been slow, with less than five per cent of the population covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme as of 2018.

She said this had left millions of Nigerians without access to quality and accessible healthcare.

Ihekweazu said the non-compulsory nature of the Act and poverty were cited as factors that contributed to the slow progress and challenges faced by the scheme.

“Weak governance structures, poor healthcare infrastructure and more made it difficult for the scheme to achieve its goals.

“To bridge these gaps in the scheme, the NHIA Act was passed into law, making health insurance mandatory for every Nigerian and legal resident.

“This is authorising NHIA to improve and leverage private sector participation in the provision of healthcare services,” she said.

According to Ihekweazu, the operationalisation of the NHIA is a critical step towards reducing catastrophic out-of-pocket expenditure and achieving UHC in the country.

She said this was expected to improve access to quality healthcare services for all Nigerians, particularly vulnerable and marginalised populations in the country.

“Uptake of health insurance hinges on effective communications to relevant stakeholders, especially the public who need to understand the benefits of having health insurance and the need to enroll in the scheme,” she said.

NAN reports that the consultative forum brought together key stakeholders, including government at the national and sub-national level, healthcare providers, civil society organisations, private sector, development partners and the media.

The forum also discussed challenges and opportunities in implementing the NHIA Act and developing strategies to accelerate its implementation.

The policy dialogue provided a platform for stakeholders to share their experiences, insights, and perspectives on NHIA implementation in the country.

It also provided an opportunity to identify key challenges facing NHIA implementation and develop strategies to address them.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Exhibitors laud South Africa Tourism on 2023 INDABA

Some exhibitors at the just concluded 2023 Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI) on Thursday commended the South Africa Tourism (SAT) for a well organised expo.

The exhibitors who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews expressed excitement over sales recorded and business deals sealed at the expo.

NAN reports that the three-day expo witnessed business meetings, conferences, exhibitions, diverse cultural displays, virtual tourism education, nightlife experience and more.

The expo attracted no fewer than 8,000 delegates from across the globe with over 1,000 exhibitors.

Tabitha Muchogu, Sales and Marketing Administration Manager, Heritage Hotels,Kenya, who had been attending the expo for the past 15 years, said significant improvement was observed.

Muchogu said the organisation of the fair was well coordinated and appropriate imformation were consistently and promptly circulated.

She noted that the quality of buyers had also improved tremendously as travel agents known as the buyers had the potential to sell their products.

“Now I can see that we have fewer jokers coming into the exhibition, who one can confidently transact businesses with. I don’t know how this was done but there are great improvements compared to the past editions.

“Going forward, I would want the South Africa Tourism to consider serving local dishes because what we had was lots of finger foods,” she said.

Also, Julia De Beer, Marketing and Reservations Manager, Siviti Timbavati Plains, said “It is a great experience here, the exhibition has been a prosperous one, we have made sales.

“I have also been able to learn a lot, for instance, I learnt the real estate business from some other exhibitors around.”

Similarly, Cassilda Ntsane, Group Sales Manager, Premier Hotel in Pretoria, who commended SAT for a well organised expo, advised them to ensure that the number of buyers exceeded that of the exhibitors, going forward.

“This will ensure that market demand meets supply,” he said.

Frank Udeme from Nigeria, said the expo was beneficial to him because he learnt diverse aspects of African culture.

He urged Africans to keep being friendly with one another and explore more of African boarders during leisure, instead of visiting the western world for tourism.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

New Durban will emerge before 2024 INDABA expo – Official

Durban Tourism, the marketing authority for the city of Durban, South Africa, says some tourism infrastructural development are underway in the city ahead of the 2024 edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI) expo.

Winnile Mntungwa, Deputy Head, Durban Tourism, gave the assurance during a news conference at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Thursday.

Mntungwa assured tourists that the development would totally transform Durban, the host city for the just concluded three-day ATI expo.

According to her, the development is neccesary as Durban remains the host for the 2024 and 2025 editions of the expo.

“A film city similar to what is obtainable in Hollywood will be constructed as well as a resuscitation of the waterfront in the city.

“There will be a different Durban in 2024, when you come for Indaba. You all know that we take pride in ourselves as the city under construction.

“We hope to complete the film city which will be of disney standard; cruising activity will be upgraded and we have a lot of other infrastructural developments ongoing as well,” she said.

Mntungwa noted that the organisation had exceeded its success projections for the expo so far, as 6,000 delegates were targeted but was able to attract 8,629 delegates.

“I am happy, we are making a positive and upward impact, we look forward to a big one in 2024 and I believe we Africans will continue to tell our stories more,” she said.

Also, Zinnie Nzama, Acting Chief Convention Bureau Officer, South Africa Tourism, noted that 21,000 meetings were held during the expo as against 18,000 meetings held in 2022.

She said this was quite encouraging as she appealed to Africans to engage themselves further and make 2024 edition of the expo a bigger one.

Mr John Arittho, Chief Operations Officer, Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), promised to provide a more comfortable venue for the expo in 2024.

Arittho also assured tourists that the hotel facilities around the ICC would be made available for them to use in 2024.

He disclosed that for each day of the just concluded expo, 6,000 meals were served.

“The most interesting aspect of the expo was having students from different vocational academy in Durban participate in the expo.

“This is a way of catching them young to enable them become self reliant and responsible,” he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Appoint Nigerians in Diaspora into key positions, group urges Tinubu

Nigerians under the aegis of Nationals in Diaspora Mentoring Corps (NIDMECORP) have urged the incoming administrations, both at the federal and state levels, to give Diasporans appointments.

The President of the group, Mr Alistair Soyode, in a statement he issued on Friday blamed the exclusion of Diasporans from key positions, boards and constituted authorities as one of the reasons for Nigeria’s slow path to development.

According to Soyode, appointing Diaspora Nigerians in Ministries, Departments Agencies (MDAs) and parastatal agencies would strengthen governance and leadership in the country.

He said that Nigerians in the diaspora played major roles in the 2023 elections in the country and described it as a first among many which significantly stood for justice, fairness and equity.

“With more than 20 billion dollars remittances yearly, they are not just an economic powerhouse but contributors to the wellbeing of the citizens,’’ he said.

He urged the various incoming governments to see the call as a policy direction that would strengthen the country using the best of its citizens outside the country.

“We are very excited that the Diaspora community has one of the best brains not just for the benefits of Nigeria but of their host nations, adopted or country of birth whilst still having a major affiliation to Nigeria’s development and growth, economically, professionally and otherwise.

“The yearly remittance contributions to families and projects or supporting and sponsoring programmes created the Nigeria we have today.

“Having them in policies and government programmes will help boost knowledge, skills and increase the GDP as well as local resources for the affected areas.

“Examples of Nigerians doing well can be seen at the recently acclaimed successful coronation of King Charles, where the security arrangements and schedules were led by DC Ade Adelekan, among others.

“The Diaspora Nigerians have shown total commitment to Nigeria’s development which also brings to the table the yearly Diaspora Day event in July where Nigerians from all over the world come home to discuss, deliberate and find ways to empower millions.

“The government at all levels must be more proactive to utilise such events to secure the willing partners into all boards, ministries and parastatal agencies.

“It is by showing the political will that others will be partners freely and joyfully extend hands of business and professional skills.

“President Muhammadu Buhari approved and put in placed the Nigeria In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) and I pray the incoming government will provide the needed structures, resources and policies for its full implementation and execution.

“This commission can deliver more with the needed resources and it is Nigeria as a nation that will gain from her services, international reach and global partners of our Nigerians in the Diaspora which shows the principles of participatory democracy as experienced outside the country,’’ Soyode said.

He said that it would amount to a positive leadership and political inclusion to have each ministry, agency, commission and parastatal agency with at least one Nigerian in Diaspora on in the board.

According to him, diasporans appreciate such gestures and policies.

Soyode also said that the inclusiveness of Diaspora Nigerians would be a departure from lack of future planning and fear of diaspora leadership into a new era of global Nigeria dominance with skills and experiences, making Nigeria the choice destination of economic growth.

“We urge local government chairmen, state governors and the incoming president to extend appointments to diasporans without delay.

“The whole nation has about 1500 commissioners and ministers not taking into account the other MDAs while there are more than 15 million diasporans and surely they will contribute immensely to speed the developments on all aspects of the nation.

“NIDMECORP, on behalf of Nigerians in Diaspora, positively demands justice, fairness and equitable representation for the benefits of Nigeria’s fast development.

“We reiterate and call for this inclusiveness and full invitations to the best of our brains to come home on a three, six or nine months to one-year sabbatical working leave for Nigeria.

“Few of our best are now positioned in globally recognised institutions, companies and organisations,’’ Soyode said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Silverbird Group unveils unique Miss Universe Nigeria contest

The Silverbird Group on Friday unveiled the maiden edition of Miss Universe Nigeria contest, an all-inclusive pageant, open to young Nigerian women irrespective of marital status, body type, colour, height or weight.

Guy Murray-Bruce, President of Silverbird Group, at the media unveiling of the pageant in Lagos, said for the first time, registration would accommodate all women between ages 18 and 28.

He said that the Miss Universe Nigeria contest would take on an entirely different style and format from its mother body – Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) and become two independent entities.

Murray-Bruce said: “We are very proud to announce a new dawn and bold step in the history of pageantry in Nigeria with the separation of the two pageantry into two independent entities.

“For several past editions, the overall winner of the Most Beautiful Girl In Nigeria goes on to represent Nigeria internationally at Miss World, while the first runner up goes on to participate at Miss Universe.

“However, the participation criteria of Miss Universe has evolved over time in comparison to other pageants.

“Silverbird Productions is proud to announce that going forward; Miss Universe Nigeria will be a separate, distinct and unique pageantry that will stand alone.

“We strongly believe this will give it the prominence it truly deserves, as well as give even more young aspiring ladies the chance to fulfill their dreams.

“Participants can now either be single ladies, married women, single mothers or divorced, and they can be of any size, whether slender or plus size.”

According to him, what is required is that anyone desiring to contest must have the looks, passion, eloquence, intelligence and confidence to step up and stand out on the world stage, and represent Nigeria internationally.

He added that the 2023 maiden Miss Universe Nigeria event would hold in September with series of activities building up to the finale with official opening of the dedicated website: www.missuniversenigeria.org.

“Participants can now effectively start their journey to history by logging onto the website and registering for a fee of N15,000.

“Registration and payment will only be on the website as there will be no physical forms sold. The winner stands to win lots of amazing prizes including a car, cash and endorsement deals.

“However, the main prize is the chance to represent Nigeria internationally alongside several other ladies at Miss Universe holding in the beautiful country of El Salvador in December.

“Those who have contested for this title before can attest that there is no greater reward than the chance to represent your country on a global stage,” he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Angola makes progress toward macroeconomic balance

Angolan minister of State for Economic Coordination Manuel Nunes Júnior said Friday that Angola made very important “progress” over the last five years, which contributed to the achievement of macroeconomic balance and improvements in the functioning of the financial system, mainly in the foreign exchange market.

The gains recorded, in various fields, according to Nunes Junior, are already starting to have positive effects on the real economy, such as the production of goods and services.

The progress become evident when the country recovered, in 2021, from the economic recession, in which it was “plunged” for five years.

One of the important steps taken, according to Nunes Júnior who was speaking at the opening of the 56th Meeting of the Committee of Governors of Central Banks (CCBG) of SADC, was the decision taken by the Executive to ensure the autonomy and independence of the National Bank of Angola.

The move is part of the specific revision process of the Constitutional Law that took place in 2021.

According to Nunes Júnior, Angola now has an independent Central Bank, whose main mission is to preserve the national currency, thus being the country’s monetary, exchange rate and macro prudential and resolution authority.

As for the improvements, the minister praised the role that Central Banks play in the countries’ economy, being the vehicles of great importance in the adoption of monetary policies and other specific activities.

Therefore, he defended a safe and efficient banking system, so that the countries’ economies develop in a sustainable and prosperous way.

To the official, the topics at this meeting will strengthen the regional economic situation, which appears to be essential for the development of countries in the region.

The meeting is discussing and analysing the issues of repatriation of banknotes and metallic coins, impact of exchange controls on cross-border flows of goods, services and capital, as well as the exchange in staff training.

Created in 1995, the Committee of Governors of Central Banks of SADC is a specialised structure in the promotion of close cooperation among the Central Banks of Southern Africa.

In addition to Angola, SADC comprises Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Tanzania, Zambia, Seychelles, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Swaziland

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

President reiterates completion of Caculo-Cabaça dam for 2026

Angolan head of State João Lourenço has reiterated the completion for 2026 of the construction works of the hydroelectric dam of Caculo-Cabaça, in northern Cuanza Norte province.

João Lourenço reaffirmed this on Friday (12) after the inauguration of the water abstraction, treatment and distribution system of Quissol, north-east Malanje province.

Upon unveiling the infrastructure, the holder of the Executive Branch said that the project will be completed within the period stipulated unless the funding is not available.

As of now, Laúca is definitively completed and that all attention should be focused on the large hydroelectric plant of Caculo-Cabaça, which will be the largest in the country, he said.

As for the water supply system inaugurated today, João Lourenço highlighted the project’s benefits for the population, which is now consuming better quality water and avoiding illnesses, such as acute diarrhea.

According to the President, “the improvement of the water supply is a right that belongs to the populations, because “treated water represents health, life.

There will be less diarrheal disease, so let’s save lives.” The water supply system is estimated at USD 31.2 million, financed by the Chinese credit line and aimed to boost the water supply to Malanje city.

With the coming into operation, the city’s water supply capacity increases from 575 to 1,295 cubic meters/hour, while the number of consumers rises from 55,000 to 395,000.

Household connections rose from 10,500 to 22,000.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

Former Vice President recommends respect for national symbols

The former Vice-President of the Republic Bonito de Sousa Friday recommended the scrupulous respect by the State institutions, the diplomas in regulation of the use of national symbols.

Bornito de Sousa made the recommendation while addressing the topic “Government’s Trade Mark and National Symbols”, at the Extended Methodological Meeting of the Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication.

He said that the terms of reference for these issues are regulated in various legal instruments. He specifically referred to Decree 296/20, a diploma that creates the stationary and the rules for its use.

As for the National Flag, Bornito de Sousa explained that it should always be turned to the right, it should not drag on the ground, and the tip of the star should be aligned with the reel.

He said the National Anthem should always be sung in the official language (Portuguese), having discouraged its interpretation in national languages.

Regarding the nomenclature of numbers, he said that the Presidential Legislative Decree No. 8/19, of June 12, stipulates the use of the long scale, instead of the short scale, having exemplified the spelling of the number one billion (1000,000,000), stipulated by Law in Angola.

On the place names, he said that names should be written in the official language and, whenever writing in Angolan languages of African origin, the National Institute of National Languages or a similar university should be consulted, to check whether the translation is right or wrong.

He recalled, on the other hand, that Angola does not have a district, in light of the legislation, and currently the district corresponds to the province.

The meeting gathered representatives from the media, institutional communication office of the provincial governments, ministerial departments and diplomatic missions.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

EU praises Angola’s diplomatic role in Africa

European Union has praised Angola’s diplomatic role in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Great Lakes regions.

The praise was made by the head of EU delegation in Angola, Jeannette Seppen while speaking to journalists on Friday in Luanda.

This was at the end of the meeting with the head of the Commission of Foreign Relations, International Cooperation and Angolan Communities Abroad of the National Assembly, Alcides Sakala Simões.

The EU official stressed that her institution was “very impressed” by the “very important” role played by Angola in the region, in particular by President João Lourenço in pacification of the conflicts.

“We are following up this role with great interest and admiration,” said the EU diplomat.

Ambassador Jeannette Seppe and her interlocutor reviewed the situation in the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the conflict in Ukraine, which she describes as important and very painful for the EU.

Strengthening the Partnership with Angola

The diplomat considered the partnership between the EU and Angola increasingly stronger.

She stressed the existing dialogue of European Union with all social class in the country, as part of the partnership with Angolan Government.

To her, the National Assembly (the representative body of Angolans) is part of this inclusive dialogue between the EU and Angola.

The Angolan government and the European Union (EU) recently signed in Luanda three funding agreements, estimated at 120.1 million euros, to implement new operational programmes of the government aimed at Human Capital and the Agribusiness sector.

The amount was made available to fund the Multi-Year Programme (PIP), guaranteed for the 2021-2027 period, via the neighbourhood, development cooperation and international cooperation instrument.

The partnership between Angola and the EU dates back to more than 35 years. The parties share the existing priorities in the Multi-Year Cooperation Programme with Angola, Economic Diversification, Human Capital Development, aspects that are also an EU priority.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)