Adewole: Nigeria is Committed to Universal Health Coverage

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Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said that Nigeria is committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UCH) in line with a presidential declaration on UHC in 2014 especially as the nation’s current out of pocket expenditure has risen to as high as 73.6 per cent.

Speaking in Abuja at a function yesterday commemorating the 5thWorld Universal Health Coverage themed: “Health For All”, Adewole said Nigeria has over the years demonstrated common interests, partnership in health and collective action to lend her voices in unison to the tenets of UHC for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

He stressed that UHC was as a result of the World Health Assembly Resolution 58:33 in 2005, which urged countries to develop strategies that will ensure all people have access to needed healthcare services without the risk of financial ruin at the point of accessing care or after accessing care.

“Universal Health Coverage as we are all aware is enshrined in the National Constitution- the right to health. It is the statutory role of government to ensure that all citizens, irrespective of the geographical divide have access to affordable and needed health services in an equitable manner without falling into financial catastrophe,” he said.

In operationalising the provisions of the National Health Act, the minister said that implementing initiatives and strategies towards accelerating UHC would require huge capital commitment.

Adewole said the Act has established the Nigerian National Health System, specifying all the key players and actors therein and their roles and responsibilities. The Act also enacted the establishment of “the Basic Health Care Provision Fund”, which President Buhari has committed to funding.

“The Act provides a window of opportunity to facilitate mobilisation of resources needed for funding UHC through the provision of a basic minimum package of health services for every Nigerian. This will be achieved through contributions from at least 1% consolidated revenue fund, donor contributions and through other sources”, he added

According to him, the ministry of health, her parastatals and other strategic partners share a common vision and goal for UHC- a common vision of “CHANGE VISION FOR HEALTH”, a vision geared towards improving the efficiency and responsiveness of the health system to the needs of citizens, adding that the central focus of the change vision for health, also aligns with the tenets of UHC is on increasing inputs required for efficient service delivery in order to meet the needs of the people whilst reducing catastrophic health expenditure.

Speaking on the several efforts of the administration and his ministry to ensure primary health care delivery across the country, the minister said “We have tirelessly worked and strategised on how to improve on the functionality of our Primary Health Care systems as the gateway to preventive care in Nigeria.

“Our goal is to make functional at least one (1) Primary Health Care (PHC) facility per ward in Nigeria, scaling up to 10,000 functional PHC facilities over the next few years. We set the ball rolling with the commissioning of the kuchigoro model center with support from Sterling Bank and GIZ. Other centers are being revitalized along the same model.

“To reinforce and sustain the gains accruing from revitalising the PHC system, strengthening referral systems to ensure effective linkages to secondary and tertiary care was yet another major focus for us.

“Through partnerships with states and some donor partners, we are reactivating one secondary health care facility per LGA across the country. Concerning strengthening tertiary care; seven tertiary facilities; one per Geo-Political Zone and the FCT) will be upgraded to meet world-class standards leading to access to quality healthcare, discouraging outbound medical tourism. This strategy is aimed at conserving foreign exchange, increasing investment in the health sector whilst creating additional jobs”.

He said the government has also initiated strategies to reinforce emergency response targeted at public health emergencies with a particular focus on the North-east and Internally Displaced Persons across the country.

He disclosed that the nation’s paradigm shift towards UHC has the potential to change the lives of Nigerians, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. UHC holds the key to unlocking the door for significant improvement in the country’s health indicators, and is about people having access to the health care services they need without suffering financial hardship in paying for them.

“The Nigerian State Health Investment Project which is a Result Based Financing Project aimed at improving maternal and child health indices as well as strengthening fiscal autonomy at the PHC levels: is one of the flagship projects of UHC.

“The Saving One Million Lives (SOML PforR) is a huge opportunity to tackle the poor maternal and child health indices in Nigeria. So far, states have been accessing the funds for the implementation of their work plans. Early results of the impact of the SOML interventions are being reported and they have come out as positive. We will continue to improve and sustain these early gains.

“In line with the goals of the current administration to foster dramatic and visible impact on the health of Nigerians in the shortest possible time, the FMOH and her partners shall continue to promote intra and inter-sectoral collaborations: thus giving us the opportunity to work effectively together as a team and achieve results that hitherto would have been difficult to achieve”, he said.

The minster appreciated various development partners who have been supporting Nigeria in the Health Sector particularly WB, WHO, BMGF, DFID, UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, CSOs as well as partner countries.