On 11th November 2015, the Ogun State health insurance scheme Araya was expanded to its eighth local government area (LGA), Ijebu North. Araya, supported by the African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) consortium, is a pro-poor scheme in a south western state of Nigeria. The continued expansion of the Araya scheme across the state will help bring better care within reach of the poor.
Araya is a health insurance scheme designed especially to increase access to primary healthcare for the poor. It was launched in April 2014 through a public private partnership (PPP) between the Ogun State Government and the African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) consortium. About 60% of Ogun’s 4 million strong population live on less than a dollar per day. The health plan covers primary healthcare, chronic disease treatment, maternity care including C-sections, child care, dental care and surgeries.
Addressing the crowd, the newly appointed Ogun State Commissioner for Health Dr Babatunde Ipaye stated that Araya remains a committed project for the state government and that the scheme will be scaled up to all 20 LGAs within the next three months. He also made a commitment that resources will be made available to continue running the scheme successfully. By the end of the day, 271 persons had accessed free medical services provided during the launch and 30 people enrolled on the Araya scheme.
Several hundred community members, representatives of donor agencies and NGOs, and key state government stakeholders attended the launch. Other stakeholders in attendance were the leadership of the Health in Africa (HIA): Dr Khama Rogo and Nicole Klingen expressed their appreciation of the level of community involvement and engagement within the scheme and commended the state on its pro poor approach.
The inclusion of all stakeholders ensures collective ownership of the initiative and a shared vision for attaining accessible better healthcare. AHME Country Lead in Nigeria Mr Wale Adedeji assured the State of AHME’s continued support and applauded Ogun for its drive to provide an efficient and affordable healthcare system to the community.
The Araya scheme was initiated with a strong and long-term commitment from former Governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun as well as his cabinet, who enlisted the support of several private and public international development partners.
AHME is assisting Ogun in bringing Araya within reach of the poor through a targeted marketing and enrolment strategy. It also ensures private sector involvement by including franchise and private healthcare providers in the scheme. Finally, AHME is providing technical assistance for costing pricing, administration, policy interventions for regularly framework support, benefit package design, marketing, quality and upgrading private providers.
Ogun State and international partners subsidize part of the premium for the general population. These instalments make it possible to offer free access to healthcare for those groups who need it most. As such, Araya aims to create a sustainable risk sharing pool for beneficiaries of the scheme while providing health facilities with a regular income to invest in providing quality health care.
Enrollees have access to both public and private healthcare providers, which in turn benefit from a steady stream of income through the scheme. Improving the quality of the healthcare services at these facilities is a central aspect of Araya. Ogun State supports providers to engage in continuous quality improvement through the internationally accredited SafeCare standards, a supply side intervention of PharmAccess Foundation. Also, by reducing out-of-pocket payments among the population, Araya contributes to increased financial protection for the poor.
The African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) consortium is a five-year partnership led by Marie Stopes International and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). AHME strives to improve health outcomes for the poor by enhancing the quality of care in the private sector in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.
AHME is implemented through a partnership between:
Marie Stopes International, Population Services International, Society for Family Health, which focus on social franchising
International Finance Corporation (IFC), which works on policies, legislative and governance frameworks as well as demand-side financing, and
PharmAccess, Medical Credit Fund and SafeCare, which cover demand-side financing, access to capital and quality improvement.