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Emergency: FG signs MoU for operationalizing NEMSAS FCT as pilot


Emergency: FG signs MoU for operationalizing NEMSAS FCT as pilot

The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), has signed a multi-sectoral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and launch of the Implementation Manual, for operationalizing the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System (MEMSAS).

This is to make it possible for Nigerians to call for help in emergency situations.

The Minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the public signing on Monday in Abuja, said NEMSAS was the operational arm of the third disbursement gateway, designated in the National Health Act (NHA), with 5 per cent of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund for Emergency Medical Treatment meant to provide urgent health service to Nigerians.

The Voice Media Trust (VMT NEWS) reports that NEMSAS is the third Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) gateway, which addresses a serious weakness in Nigerians’ health system, which makes no provision for physical and financial access to First Aid and healthcare, in case of life-threatening emergencies of any type.

Ehanire added that such intervention and the concept adopted are novel in the country’s health system, being first of their kind at national scale and because of the innovative features, designed to minimize cost of operation and increased coverage.


“Private Sector is expected to bring in organizational acumen and a common understanding of programme delivery as a public service initiative to be delivered at cost.

“The idea was to pool existing material and human resource assets of both public and private providers, to a combined platform, using Ambulances and Hospital Urgent care centers, on a fee-for-service basis.

“The most cost effective way to optimize limited resources to operate the service at scale, and also to grow the 5 per cent of Basic Healthcare Fund by sourcing for additional income through donations and contributions to a National Fund, as service spreads around the country,” he explained.

According to him, “In all these cases, medical help comes at the call of 112, a number provided and maintained by the Nigerian Communication Commission in 24 States and counting.

“The call is a free of change public service for the sick or injured and avoids delay in accessing treatment or transport. It is relayed to manned EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) of every State and the FCT.

The minister added that the fee-for-service payment to service providers was by a special agreement with National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), on their well established electronic payment platform.

He said the platform is a unique intersectoral collaboration that allows NEMSAS to electronically reimburse accredited service providers registered with both NHIS and NEMSAS for service rendered, since NHIS has the profile of most Hospitals in Nigeria and is uploading Ambulance Service provider profiles.

“There will be capacity to electronically locate, track and verify Ambulance movements with a software promised by a Partner,” he explained.

The minister noted that apart from engagement with the Private Medical Sector, EMTC was built around collaboration with State Ministies of Health, relevant Federal Ministries, Agencies, Departments, Civic Society Organisations and even outside Associations, all with a common interest or stake in providing medical help to persons, whose lives are at risk, whether due to severe injury, sudden illness or health distress related to pregnancy, infection or organ failure.

“Emergency Medical service is delivered along three operational pathways: coverage of Highways and roads, mostly in collaborative partnership with the Federal Road Safety Corps; coverage of Emergency within States and FCT, working in collaboration with respective authorities and involving domestic, workplace-related, assault and sports incidents.

“Finally, the Rural Ambulance Service, in collaboration with Local Government, Ward and Primary Healthcare Centres, will meet rural community emergency needs around access to maternal and child health, especially at odd hours,” he explained.

Ehanire noted that the NEMSAS programme was the missing Link that strengthens the National Health System by filling the gaps of poor physical and financial access to healthcare at times of dire need and distress, and coordinating referral services to move patients from one treatment tier to another by Ambulance in emergency situations.

He added that EMTC functions through a multi-sectoral stakeholder partnership to ensure the service eventually becomes available to every Nigerian, regardless of where they live.

“Ensuring access to timely emergency care is critical to meeting WHO’s commitment in its 2019–2023 General Programme of Work, “to serve in particular the most disadvantaged, marginalized hard-to-reach populations, including those affected by emergencies, to ensure that no one is left behind,” he added.

He noted that the programme was part of the continuous effort of the FMOH to respond to unmet needs in life-threatening medical emergencies, from injury and illness across the human life course, regardless of gender, age group or circumstance, and deliver prompt care on site.

Amongst others, he said, transportation to accredited centres to enter the health system for definitive care; will be done without financial conditions imposed on the patient within the first 48 hours.

The minister noted that service given this way removes barriers and saves lives in highly time-dependent emergency, as part of the Basic Minimum Package of Healthcare Services and Emergency Medical Treatment promised in the 2014 National Health Act.

According to him, “This project is no doubt ambitious and has been met with skepticism by some persons, because of its novelty and a perceived lack of good track record in Africa to run such complex partnerships, on which the operations is to depend.

“But this programme is also a very promising and much overdue initiative that could finally begin to address the high rate of maternal Under-5 child and accident mortalities, that have been stagnant in Nigeria in the last few years, despite substantial government and Partner investments to reduce them,” he added.

Ehanire said that the NEMSAS programme can solve issues of lives lost due to lack of FirstAid and transport from home or accident scene to treatment, or lives lost to denial of treatment due to inability to pay.

“As the concept allows dedication of most of the resource to actual purchase of service, value for money is enhanced.

“The programme Rollout will be in the FCT in a matter of weeks. We also introduced the partners, partnership and concept of Emergency Medical care. Using lessons learnt from the FCT delivery model, the Rollout will follow in State by State with functional 112 toll free Emergency Call facility, till all States are integrated to the network,” he explained.

He, however stressed that Nigeria was striving, like other countries, to rebuild its economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and to construct new infrastructure to address existing gaps.

“The entire Emergency Medical Service relies on a functional facility network of Primary and Secondary Health centers.

“The partnership with private care providers is indispensable in bridging what would be gaps in infrastructure network. Beyond supporting citizen’s health, this programme will create jobs and improve quality of life and stabilize society,” he said.

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