Nigerians trade waste for health insurance

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) – Jerome Ngutall suffered from persistent stomach pains and, like many Nigerians, had no money for a doctor.

Then he heard about the novel idea of ​​getting health insurance.

He soon signed up with Soso Care, a Nigerian health-tech company, and after delivering used car batteries and plastic waste, he received a health insurance card and was eligible to see a doctor.

During his first visit to Anchor Hospital in Port Harcourt, the oil-producing state capital of Rivers State, this month, Ngutor was treated and medicated for a suspected stomach ulcer.

“I didn’t bring a kobo (penny)…and I’m very happy because I can see they gave me medicine,” says a yam seller on the street. said Ngutor, a 32-year-old father of three.

Soso Care founder Nonso Opurum said he came up with the idea to solve two problems in Nigeria: waste and lack of affordable healthcare. Waste, mostly plastic, is either sold to local recycling companies or exported.

According to research firm Statista, only 3% of the population in Nigeria has health insurance. Most are civil servants covered by the national health insurance scheme, and the majority of the 200 million people do not have health insurance.

In Nigeria, people routinely lose money to financial fraud, so they do not trust insurance and view it as an expensive luxury.

Government health facilities are affordable and accessible to many Nigerians, but are poorly equipped and lack medicines and equipment leading to a brain drain of skilled staff.

“We thought about how we could use the problem of polluting plastics to solve another problem of access to quality healthcare,” he told Reuters at the Sasocare hub in Port Harcourt. told to

Government officials did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the plan.

If you deliver a disposable battery to Saso Care, you’ll get 1 year of medical care and 3 kg of scrap metal and 4-5 kg ​​of plastic waste will get you 1 month of health insurance.

Soso Care launched at the end of 2019, but the coronavirus curbed expansion plans. So far, 7,500 households have been covered by the health insurance scheme and Opurum said his goal is to reach half of Nigeria’s population in five years.

Soso Care has operations in four cities and plans to expand next year, said Opurum, adding that the company has received inquiries from other African countries and Asia to replicate the project. rice field.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, edited by Angus MacSwan

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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