The National Health Insurance Scheme is established by an Act of Parliament with the aim of getting everybody living in The Gambia registered on the scheme and get access to harmonised quality medical services at no cost but of course, paid for by all residents through direct deduction from wages for workers, or contributions from other categories of income earners and the national budget.
Only children and retired workers would be exempted from contributing to the scheme.
The scheme is designed to address current major issues in health facilities, example the acute lack of drugs, equipments and qualified personnel in most public health facilities.
Under the scheme, public and private medical facilities would compete to provide more services to more people, because that is how they can earn more money from the scheme. This will almost certainly lead to more operators, especially private health entrepreneurs, to set up units at far- flung rural communities, thus bringing health care services to the door steps of people in hard- to -reach places across the country.
The scheme would be implemented by an authority that would assess and accredit health care facilities to the scheme to ensure that all facilities on the scheme have basic quality standards.
However since the unrolling of the scheme, various conspiracy theories have surfaced including linking the scheme to illegal registration of non-Gambians for voting purposes. Some, especially intending migrants to Europe, said data collected from people could be shared with immigration authorities of foreign countries to identify them for deportation.
These are terrible misconceptions that has hampered the initial roll out of registration and led the authorities to consider changing approach.
One such changes should be to separate the registration of births from the scheme to allay fears that non-Gambians registering on the scheme are not also taking opportunity to acquire birth certificates.
Finally, the authority implementing the scheme must embark on a massive sensitisation drive to build the battering ram of the masses to understand that after all, the national health insurance scheme is for the good of all. We at The Standard are ready to support such a crusade.