Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law a new healthcare reform act he says will secure coverage for millions of impoverished Nigerians.
Speaking at the signing on Thursday, Buhari said he plans to establish a fund to "ensure coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums."
The new bill seeks to achieve universal healthcare in Nigeria, according to a government statement, and will replace a 2004 law.
"As part of our healthcare reforms, I have signed into law the recently passed National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022, which repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme Act. We will ensure the full implementation of the new Act, to provide coverage for all Nigerians," Buhari tweeted.
The new National Health Insurance Authority will work with state-run health insurance schemes to certify basic and secondary healthcare providers and ensure that Nigerians are enrolled, Buhari added.
Some Nigerians applauded the new initiative on social media and thanked the president for signing the new measure. Even healthcare companies signaled their support.
Others questioned where the money for such funding will come from and if the least fortunate will gain at all.
The West African country is facing major healthcare issues as a result of its rapidly rising population. Nigeria has the world's second-highest number of HIV-positive people, which has put a burden on the country's already understaffed workforce.
Analysts say there are unexplored prospects in the private sector, but the schemes must overcome issues such as healthcare pricing and payments to hospitals.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.