Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Ministry of Health has called on the National Assembly to include the one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund as was provided by the National Health Act in the 2018 budget.
This, the ministry urged, is to enable the government fund projects, programmes and policies geared towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria by 2025.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made this call in Abuja yesterday during a briefing in commemoration of the World Health Day 2018 themed: “UHC: Everyone, Everywhere” by the World Health Organisation (WHO) while Nigeria’s slogan is “Health for All.”
Ehanire said the present administration recognises the importance of UHC in the National Health System, as part of the social protection architecture to ensure that Nigerian citizens get quality health service, when and where they need it, without suffering financial hardship.
To this end, he said the government is working to provide physical access to health care with the revitalisation of one functional Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre in every political ward to serve citizens, even when they do not immediately have money to pay.
According to him, this helps to preserve the human capital and contributes to productivity and socio-economic development, while supporting equity, especially among rural dwellers and the urban poor, leaving no one behind.
He said the target is to ensure that school children, the elderly and childbearing women would also enjoy healthcare access, without risk of financial ruin to their families.
To achieve this, the minister stressed that the “National Health Act, enacted in 2014 to provide a framework for regulation, development and management of a National Health System and lay down standards for rendering health services and related matters in the Federation, set aside one per cent of Consolidated Revenue Fund as Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, of which 50 per cent enters the NHIS gateway and 45 per cent the NPHCDA gateway, leaving five per cent as Emergency Fund to utilise via the FMOH gateway.
“Operationalisation of the Act, as a step towards UHC, is expected to support physical and financial access to healthcare by aiding revamping of neighborhood PHC Centres and solving Human Resource for Health challenges, for a basic healthcare package that includes free antenatal and postnatal care, free immunisation service and free treatment of children under the age of 5.Healthcare delivery quality is expected to improve significantly with more Value for Money, Transparency and Accountability. Appropriate payment exemption schemes are to be determined by the National Council on Health to provide access to the vulnerable.”
The minister also expressed the desire for a “more purposeful cooperation and collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Legislative Network for UHC, other Civil Society Advocates and all the National Assembly Committees to include the one per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund in the 2018 budget.”
As a partner in the movement to accelerate global attainment of UHC, Ehanire said Nigeria in its National Health Act is to provide a minimum of social (healthcare) benefits to its citizens through the purchase of a set of preventive, promotive and curative services from accredited private and public facilities.
“The government so recognises PHC Centers as the platform for UHC and is pursuing the rehabilitation of almost 10,000 PHC Centers in Nigeria between now and the end of 2019, the operational design of which shall be the Ward Health System (WHS),” he added.
Speaking further, Ehanire said the Ministry of Health through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has the mandate to achieve UHC by 2025 and demonstrated leadership by committing to institute mandatory contributory health insurance scheme for all persons who earn an income, whether formal or informal, and a fund to cover the vulnerable.
He assured that various states are committed to this and are at various stages of implementation.
This reassuring gesture, he added, would be appreciated by Nigerians as the foundation for ensuring a minimum package of healthcare for all citizens.