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Brian’s Story

Photo by: Scott Moreland

Dr. Dogo-Muhammad, CEO of Nigeria’s National Health Insurance Scheme, was disappointed by a lack of progress expanding healthcare coverage across Nigeria. The Health Insurance Scheme had failed to attain the goal of bringing family planning and reproductive health services to at-risk pregnant women in 12 of Nigeria’s poorest states. Dr. Dogo-Muhammad was concerned that the country wasn’t ready for these services. He believed people were skeptical of the health insurance program, seeing family planning as a means of government control.

Knowing that Nigeria had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, Dr. Dogo-Muhammad forged ahead and approached the USAID l Health Policy Project to conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits of including family planning in health insurance packages.

Brian Briscombe, a Senior Economist for Futures Group working on the project in Nigeria, was equally disheartened by the National Health Insurance program's slow expansion. During a visit to a Nigerian health care facility, Brian met a pregnant woman in her 40s who was in labor with a long and difficult childbirth. He knew it was good that the woman was delivering in a health care facility, and not at-home. But Brian also understood that the ultimate success of the health insurance program was not simply getting women to healthcare facilities, but also offering services that protect and promote their well-being.

Using Futures Group forecasting tools, Brian and other Health Policy Project team members analyzed data on reproductive health and family planning services. With the data in hand, the team met with the top managers of the national health insurance program. Nigerian decisionmakers asked, “How can we afford these services?”

The Health Policy Project team explained that family planning benefits would save lives, helping women avoid risky births. The cost of upfront investments in reproductive health and family planning far outweighed the benefits in lives saved and  high-risk births avoided.

After considering the data and discussing it with the Health Policy Project team, decisionmakers agreed to include family planning in two of Nigeria’s National Health Insurance programs. When implemented to scale, the program will cover hundreds of thousands of Nigeria’s poorest pregnant women in 12 states.

“When you can get results like this by keeping the pressure on, then it’s worth devoting your career. It’s worth it to me, and that’s why I joined Futures Group,” said Brian.