The chief justification of any national health insurance scheme must be the facilitation of access to quality healthcare services for all.

The Gambia government last year promised to roll out the national health insurance scheme to, according to it, promote universal access to healthcare services. This type of scheme has proved quite useful in other geographies. It guarantees a degree of parity in healthcare access, economic status not withstanding.

However in our own part of the world, we can stick our necks out and say, the national health insurance scheme of The Gambia is just another costly regurgitation of what’s impractical in the country at the moment.

Here, some will say we need to be futuristic but how about priorities!

When you talk about access, you also talk about availability!

Now, how can you convince Gambians and non-Gambians that the scheme is good under such a wobbly healthcare infrastructure?

Pharmacies in our hospitals are literally threadbare!

Depleted and seemingly less frequently replenished!

How can the national health insurance scheme improve access to health services when equipment needed for proper functioning of our health facilities are either dysfunctional or non-existent?

Will the government be able to shoulder all the bills from private health facilities?

You cannot give what you don’t have!

Instead of embarking on this expensive project, the Gambia government should concentrate on equipping our health facilities with the requisite equipment, staff and medical consumables.

Meanwhile, the government appears to be keen on getting everyone on board as far as the scheme is concerned.

However, it would appear so many are less enthusiastic because they don’t think it’s a serious business.

National health insurance scheme should be able to give citizens and non-citizens that rest of mind as far as out-of-pocket expenses in accessing health services are concerned.

But the sad reality is that government cannot give what it does not have!

Improve the health sector!