FG, W’Bank, BMGF Commit $180m on Universal Health Coverage


Martins Ifijeh

As a collective effort to address Nigeria’s poor healthcare indices and improve human capital development, the federal government, the World Bank Group, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have jointly committed $180 million to fund Universal Health Coverage through the Basic Healthcare Provisions Fund (BHCPF).

This is even as the Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, and the Department for International Development (DFID) pledged to support the fund with $75 million and £60 million, respectively, over the next five years.

Giving this breakdown at the Presidential Launch of BHCPF and Second National Strategic Health Development Plan in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewale, said with $180 million already set aside, the implementation of the programme has kicked off with six benefiting states.

The BHCPF is a fund outside the health budget set aside to address basic healthcare needs of Nigerians, and to ensure improvement of primary health facilities across the country.

Adewale said the federal government has started the release of its allocated N57.15 billion for the fund, while the World Bank has released N$20 million, and the BMGF releasing $2 million to address basic healthcare needs of Nigerians.

“This fund means Nigerians will be entitled to free ante natal care, free delivery, and free caesarian sessions. It also covers for diabetes and hypertension screening, as well as free treatment for malaria and tuberculosis tests.

“We are particularly happy for this launch because this will benefit poor Nigerians who are quite disadvantaged. The health indicator for the rich in Nigeria is not different from what is seen in developed countries. So this will go a long way in improving healthcare of poor Nigerians, and by extension improve human capital development.”

He said the ministry and it’s partners have worked on the national health policy, developed the national health strategic plan and the BHCPF, adding that the federal government has starting a brand new journey to ensure expanded access to every nook and cranny of the country.

He assured Nigerians that the funds will not be mismanaged, as it has already been sent directly to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where they will be disbursed to states where they are needed.

“To ensure accountability, we have also agreed with our contributors that they can audit the account anytime they want,” he added.

Launching the fund, President Muhammadu Buhari said one of his cardinal promises was to make the health of Nigerians top priority, adding that it was time to focus more on the people living in rural areas who cannot pay for healthcare or have little or no access to healthcare.

President Buhari who was represented by the Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the launch of both BHCPF and the Second National Strategic Health Development Plan (2018-2022) was part of the health sector’s plan to achieve universal health coverage.

He said: “I had in January 2017 flagged off a programme to have 10,000 functional primary healthcare facility, with each ward across the country having at least one functional facility. With this launch, we are moving towards ensuring every Nigerian has access to basic healthcare.”

Giving his key note speech, the Country Director, World Bank, Nigeria, Rachid Benmassaoud said the launch of the fund was a step in the right direction, adding that with the latest World Bank Human Capital Index recently released, Nigeria needs to do more to improve the health and nutrition of its people as part of plans to change the human capital narrative.

Benmassaoud, who was represented by the Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, World Bank, Khairy Al-Jamal said: “I am particularly glad that the BHCPF and the Second National Strategic Health Development Plan will help in moving Nigeria towards universal health coverage.

“One thing is key, the accountability framework of this scheme is strong, so we are optimistic that this will help improve health indices in Nigeria,” he said