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By NBF News
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In line with its objective to close the gap that exists in quality of care and services provided by both private and public healthcare institutions, as well as individual healthcare practitioners in Nigeria, the Society for Quality Health care in Nigeria (SQHN) has reiterated the need for standards in health care services in the country.

According to the Founder/President SQHN Prof. Adeyemo Elebute during the 3rd Annual Conference of the Society in Lagos which was titled 'Safety, Standards and Customer Service', the issue of standards in health care services has become extremely important to neglect.

He noted that the objective of the conference was to emphasize the importance of safety as an essential dimension of quality in healthcare, define structures and processes that must be available to guarantee patient safety, show a link between customer service and the mission, vision goals, and culture of an organization and advocacy and membership drive for the Society for quality in healthcare in Nigeria.

Elebute explained that to ensure a coordinated effort to improve health outcomes, increase confidence in the healthcare sector, as well as reduce the cost of providing care, the SQHN has relationship with government and different organizations.

Continuing, he stated that to push forward the quality of healthcare delivery in Nigeria, SQHN has plans to catch the youth young by way of sponsorship in order to engage them in the campaign of safety in health care delivery.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Dogo Mohammed Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) stated that the theme of the conference (Safety, Standards and Customer Service) was aptly titled, as it is a reflection of the reality that service to the customer is key to the growth and sustainability of health insurance industry in Nigeria.

Dogo who was duly represented by Dr. Abdulrahman Sambo stated that standards are not only desirable but important in the health insurance system which is demand driven.

He explained that the basic function of health insurance can be summarized as provision of access to care with financial risk protection, within which are 3 core sub-components; collection of funds, pooling of funds and purchasing of services.

He noted that all forms of insurance perform these functions, and since there is no universally acceptable 'best practice' mechanism or system, each country adopts a system that fits its socio-economic, political and cultural environment.

There is however some deciding factors for achieving successful implementation of social health insurance which he listed as follows; Size of the informal sector and labor market , Socio-economic status of the people and level of income, Health care infrastructure, Design of the insurance scheme (including its administration, provider payment mechanism, quality assurance process, and level of solidarity within the society and Support by government (to guide and regulate a process of compulsory health insurance for all) Dogo went further saying that NHIS has developed a blueprint for the implementation of community based Social Health Insurance Programme which is at the verge of being flagged off in 37 pilot sites all across Nigeria.

He also stated that although the NHIS started off as the implementing agency of the Formal Sector Health Insurance Programme, the role has gradually evolved to that of regulation (Protecting consumers and the promotion of public health objectives of equity, affordability and access to qualitative health services) of the industry in line with the law setting up the organization. The main stakeholders (HMOs and Healthcare facilities) are taking over the implementation.

The NHIS boss stressed that quality of care cannot be measures unless there is something to measure with, and this is known as standards. 'Standards are the vehicle by which the general concept and attributes of quality are translated to actual measurements, and the attainment of standards forms the basis for accreditation of the facility and the determinants of its quality.