In its bid to give healthcare access to more people, the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency (OYSHIA) has said that no fewer than 450,000 enrollees will be captured by the scheme before the end of the year. This was disclosed by Dr. Sola Akande, executive secretary of OYSHIA, during a two-day media dialogue on how to improve healthcare access for children and women through state-supported health insurance scheme. The media dialogue, organised by the state Ministry of Information in collaboration with OYSHIA and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), took place in Ibadan, Oyo State capital. Not less than 100,000 persons have been enrolled into the state health insurance scheme, which was launched 18 months ago. While other schemes focused on civil servants, OYSHIA boss said the state started by attracting enrollees in the informal sector where the bulk of the poor eke out their livelihood. According to him, more than 15,000 farmers, artisans and market women have joined the health insurance scheme. Unlike other state-supported health insurance schemes, Oyo health insurance is unique because the Act establishing it has a provision that two per cent of the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) be channeled into the scheme. While stressing the essence of having health insurance, Dr. Akande pointed out that the scheme is making it possible for enrollees to visit doctors as occasion demands with the aim of determining their health status even when they are not sick. Describing health insurance as protection against financial hazards, spreading of risks and pooling of resources to ensure that people remain healthy, the executive secretary maintained that current trend in healthcare delivery places emphasis on preventive medicine. Enthusing that the scheme had performed over 100 caesarian sections for pregnant women, employed medical doctors and renovated some hospitals in the state, Dr. Akande said enrolling in health insurance scheme is also changing people’s health awareness and attitudes. “The benefits are far more than what enrollees would contribute as premium. The agency has received a lot of testimonies from beneficiaries since the scheme started. It makes them to see their doctors even when nothing is wrong with them and also improving their health-seeking habit,” he said. He added that success recorded so far is also attributable to the ICT it deployed into its operations, which has brought about accountability and transparency. Dr. Akande insisted that running a health insurance scheme without ICT architecture makes it prone to fraudulent claims by parties, adding that OYSHIA has witnessed an increase in enrolment since it deployed comprehensive biometric of its enrollees. Besides giving independence to all stakeholders in the scheme to key into the relevant parts of the platform, the software has made it possible for health maintenance organisations, hospitals and enrollees to carry out many activities such as payments, renewal of premiums, and biometric registration online. Also speaking during the media dialogue, Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor, UNICEF communication specialist, said the workshop was organised in order to improve media advocacy on increasing access and uptake of healthcare services for women and children and other vulnerable segments of the population through health insurance scheme. She urged other states to emulate Oyo health insurance scheme so as to make healthcare accessible and affordable to the people, adding that an improved advocacy on health insurance will ultimately give more healthcare access to women and children.