Eyitayo Lambo
Former Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo

Former Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, has charged the federal government to increase budgetary allocation to health if the country is to be taken as serious about attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Lambo made this remark in Abuja at the 2016 annual general meeting and scientific conference of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter. According to him, “It’s a great disappointment that we have been able to achieve less than seven per cent health insurance coverage of the population 11 years after the launch of the formal sector programme of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)

He listed some of the requirements for the attainment of universal health coverage as a well- designed and functioning health system; a broad, reliable and sustainable health financing system that assures sufficient financial resources for health; extensive risk-pooling of available funding for health; and efficient use of pooled funds in particular through strategic purchasing.

“Universal Health Coverage will be difficult to achieve if we do not take serious and sustainable steps to: ensure that health is accorded very high priority by political leaders at all levels; reduce out-of-pocket health spending from the current high level of over 60% to not more than 20 per cent; increase risk-pooling from the current seven per cent to at least 75-80 per cent; increase budgetary allocation to health to at least meet the Abuja target of 15 per cent of the total government expenditure; use tax-based revenue to subsidize health insurance prepayment contributions for the poor and vulnerable group; strengthen the national health system, especially primary health care system; and define as well as implement a minimum health package as provided for in the National Health Act (2014),” he added.

Lambo, who was Health Minister from 2003 to 2007 was among those honoured at the event with the NMA Excellent Service Award, particularly for “his vision to commence the Health Insurance Scheme during his tenure as the Honourable Minister of Health.”

In her remark, the outgoing Chairman of NMA-FCT, Dr. Fatima Zara Mairami, said the Award to Lambo was in recognition of his sterling qualities and invaluable contributions to the Nigerian health space.

She also described him as a source of hope for improvement in our healthcare delivery system, adding that ‘’We feel honoured to have him and his contributions to the health space in Nigeria which have been invaluable.”

The event was attended by Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, his Federal Capital Territory counterpart, Alhaji Mohammed Bello and a host of other important personalities.