The health of the senior citizens and indeed all the pensioners in Nigeria are given priority in the national health insurance scheme.

The Pension Transitional Arraignment Directorate made this known on Friday.

The Executive Secretary of PTAD, Chioma Ejikeme, during a two-day Pensioners Stakeholders Engagement Forum held in Enugu which also featured the official unveiling of ‘I Am Alive’ confirmation pilot test of Pensioners under the Defined Benefits Scheme in the South East, said that it was working to provide Health Insurance for senior citizens.

Ejikeme said to ensure that senior citizens were included in the national health insurance scheme, the Federal Ministry of Health had established a Ministerial Committee to look into the issue, adding that they prioritise the health of the senior citizens and indeed all the pensioners.

She said that PTAD and representatives of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners were members of the Committee.

However, performing the official launch of the ‘I Am Alive’ Confirmation pilot test, the Executive Secretary said that when the platform became fully operational, the era of bringing out pensioners for field verification would be over.

Ejikeme said that PTAD adopted this technology because there was no way to know that a Pensioner had died except if the pension union reported to them which in most cases takes several months.

She said, “The Federal Government is currently paying over N91 billion annually, I am not talking about arrears I am talking of monthly pension because our monthly pension now is over N9billion. When you now add arrears, gratuities that we pay are a humongous amount.” 

On how the platform work, she explained that the ‘I Am Alive’ confirmation test was an online application to confirm that pensioners on its monthly pension payroll were alive and should continue to receive their pension

She explained, “This is a web-based platform designed to enable our pensioners to easily confirm their aliveness from the comfort of their homes or neighbourhood using either a smartphone or a computer system.

This solution takes the Pensioner through a three-step confirmation process that ends with a text message response.

“The Directorate has decided to deploy the application in phases, starting with fifty thousand pensioners cut across the four operational departments and the six geo-political zones, selected to participate in this pilot phase. On the successful implementation of this pilot phase, we will deploy the application on a full scale at predetermined intervals on a continuous basis for all verified Pensioners on the payroll.

“We will conduct the exercise here on all of you as you have been informed, so you can see and understand how it works. Other Pensioners who are part of this pilot phase have equally been notified by PTAD via SMS.”

She added, “We are consequently in collaboration with some of our stakeholders including the National Health Insurance Scheme, the National Senior Citizens Centre, and Federal Ministry of Health, to see how making health insurance available to our Pensioners can be a reality.

“We will continue to prioritise the welfare of our Pensioners and we call on all the Pension Unions under the Defined Benefit Scheme, and other stakeholders for their support in achieving this feat.”

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