Martins Ifijeh

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has stated that the federal government will take demographic dividends to Nigerians with the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provisions Fund (BHCPF), the National Strategic Health Development Plan, and the Reward of best performing States on the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOMLPfR).

Speaking during the launch of the BHCPF in Abuja recently, he said roll out of the programmes will enable the federal government effectively implement the policies as well as facilitate Nigeria’s alignment with regional and global strategies towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Lamenting the limited progress the health sector had made in service delivery despite huge financial investment by the government and out of pocket expenses by Nigerian citizens, the minister said the recorded poor health outcomes were driven mainly by structural issues, ranging from limited cross-tier accountability, poorly defined roles, inverted priorities and weak system levers that undermined performance.

Committed to addressing the above abnormality, Adewole said the federal government outlined a clear agenda to support national strategic objectives geared towards improving access and use of basic healthcare services, financial protection, human capital development and Universal Health coverage.

This, he said was consistent with strategic objectives outlined in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“To galvanise these commitments, the BHCPF will be used to ensure that strategic coordination of all stakeholders including the private sector was achieved.

“It would also provide an additional funding opportunity that would be used to deliver high impact interventions that would reverse the abysmal indices, particularly the indices addressing health of mothers and children.

“To ensure sustainability and ownership, states are expected to commit to co-funding the BHCPF with the state ministries of health working with the secretariat of the National Steering Committee of the BHCPF to identify eligible health facilities to implement strategic interventions for beneficiaries.”

The long term goal, according to the minister, was to ensure that the high and outrageous out-of-pocket health expenditure was reduced to its basic minimum. The role out of BHCPF which would start in six states would be escalated to the entire country within the next six months.

He said: “When Nigeria is committed to an issue we get it right. We got it right with polio and malaria, so we can get it right.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuosho, said the BHCPF launch held the key to actualising the UHC. He also commended the senate for appropriation of the fund, hinting that in addition, the fund should provide financial protection for about 300,000 corp members across the country.

Speaking on behalf of relevant Health sector Agencies, the Director General, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said NPHCDA and NHIS would continue to work in close synergy to ensure successful implementation of the programme.

He also commended the federal government for launching the programme and approving the release of funds.
The CEO, Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, pledged to continue to collaborate with the health sector while ensuring that one per cent tax from the private sector would be committed into the implementation of the BHCPF.

Disbursement of funds to high performing states under the SOML-PforR with Yobe State being the star state’,  was part of the highlights of the event.