By Ferdinand Ekechukwu
Stakeholders congregated in Lagos recently to proffer solutions to issues of healthcare in the country.
The conference, which was on quality service delivery in the healthcare industry, was organised by Hygeia HMO Limited, in partnership with some healthcare management and medical service providers including PharmAccess, Swiss Re, Outreach Medical Services, Roche, and GE Medical Credit Funds, and Tremendoc.
The meeting was the culmination of a series of nationwide engagements with hospitals and healthcare service providers in the south-south and in other regions, where issues that affect the business of healthcare delivery were discussed.
These engagements, according to the Chief Executive Officer of Hygeia HMO, Mr. Obinnia Abajue, are part of the companyâ€™s commitment to interacting with their primary service providers and other stakeholders as partners in progress towards supporting the development of a viable healthcare delivery system in Nigeria. He noted that in the world of healthcare, the patient must come first.
Abajue pointed out that no matter how good the capabilities to ensuring adequate healthcare were, there were some things that were contextual and unique to the Nigerian situation and which private enterprise cannot resolve. â€œThis remains firmly in the domain of the government and our best hope is effective public, private partnerships to drive resolution of these issues,â€ he added.
The subject of the conference centered on key issues of public interest in healthcare delivery like emergency services, Hepatitis B, micro health insurance scheme, capacity gaps and inadequate funding for providers of primary healthcare services in the country.
In addition to the conference creating awareness and starting conversations around healthcare issues, it emphasised some key points that would enable accessibility and affordability to healthcare that would drive Nigeria closer to the Universal Health Coverage agenda.
To achieve this, providers were advised to adopt a multiplicity of methods to fund the delivery of healthcare services that is focused on achieving coverage within a short time.
Some of the topics discussed by panel sessions included providing healthcare insurance for lower income groups, financing options for healthcare providers in Nigeria and several other topics aimed at contributing to the awareness and capacity of dealing with the issues, with the major focus on the patient.
The organisers claim that health insurance today, whether private or public, is the only universal concept for healthcare financing to deliver affordable care to more people. It therefore posits that to drive the awareness and that responsibility to get more people to know and participate is dependent on all the citizenry.
Health insurance as indeed the only vehicle of finance to healthcare, but just how many people are covered in Nigeria? The ministry of health identifies only about 4% of the population as covered on any form of risk protection mechanism for healthcare, leading to over 69% of out of pocket minute health.
Speaking at the conference, the Minister of Health, represented by the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, revealed that since the rebasing of Nigeriaâ€™s GDP as a middle income country, there has been a significant reduction in various support in the country. This he noted has seen Nigeria pay an increase counterpart funding as pre-requisite for global funding support for diseases such as Aids, tuberculosis, and malaria.
Also speaking at the conference, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olajide Idris challenged all healthcare professionals to look inward as it was not a job for the government alone. He called for behavioural change at the policy level, provider level and consumer level.
He also stated that the state was planning to address the number of health issues in one fell swoop. â€œIt might sound ambitious. We want to address universal coverage using our health insurance scheme as a mechanism,â€ he said. â€œAnd that scheme is to address the issue of access, the issue of quality, effectiveness, and of course financial protection for the poor.â€ Themed, Improving Healthcare Service Quality in Nigeria: Be a Part of The Solution, participants at the conference were drawn from key stakeholders group within the public and the private sectors, including the Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole; Lagos State commissioner for health, Dr. Olajide Idris; and Chief Medical Director, Lagoon Hospital, Dr. Jimi Coker.
Others are the founder, Outreach Medical Services, Dr. Efunbo Dosekun; Senior Health Specialist IFC, Dr. Olumide Okunola; Public Reforms and Public-Private Dialogue, African Economic Policy, Dr. Tayo Aduloju; Head Shell Health, Dr. A. Oladoyin; Director Health Industry Services, Gbenga Olatunji; and representative of the United State Government & Healthcare in Nigeria, Ms. Darcy Zotter, Public Affairs Office, United States Consulate.