Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
As Nigeria grapples with the challenges of addressing poor health sector indices, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised the federal government to implement drastic reforms that would achieve better results.
It said beyond rethorics, there should be radical shift from mere concepts to clear actions with measurable results.
In a goodwill message presented by the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, at the ongoing 64th National Council on Health (NCH), in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, the global health body urged the country to leverage on the strengths and opportunities of each tier of government to come up with feasible, less complex, and sustainable strategies that will work and yield result.
He described the NCH event with the theme “Building Resilience and Inclusive Healthcare System for a Healthy Nigeria,” as a historic event that would empower and inspire stakeholders towards promoting health, providing health and protecting the health of all Nigerians without leaving anyone behind.
“With the burden of out-of-pocket expenditure on health which is the highest in the region, a growing burden of non-communicable diseases on the background of high burden of communicable diseases, high maternal and childhood mortality rates, an unpredictable landscape in terms of multiple health emergencies, and a growing population, the health sector in Nigeria certainly requires an uncommon reform.
“It is heart-warming that Nigeria has prioritised primary healthcare and health financing as accelerators towards achieving UHC and the SDGs. “What will be useful is a radical shift from mere concepts to clear actions with measurable results in line with the recommitment of member states at the international conference to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Alma-Ata and 5th anniversary of Astana declarations on primary health care in Astana Kazakhstan, last month,” he said.
Mulombo, said the NCH provided a unique opportunity for the leaders of the Federal Ministry of Health and the State Ministries of Health with support from partners to evaluate implementation, co-create new ideas, and take far-reaching decisions on the future of the health sector in Nigeria.
According to him, the sub-themes of the 64th NCH were appropriate as they focused on the critical issues of health workforce, evidence-based research and development, health systems governance and access towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC), digital transformation in health, and innovative financing.
Mulombo, added that it would be useful to explore innovative approaches towards engagement of the Federal Ministry of Health and the States in between councils towards improved performance and tracking implementation of council resolutions.
“My expectation therefore is for this NCH to leverage on the strengths and opportunities of each tier of government to come up with feasible, less complex, and sustainable strategies that will work for the federal and state governments, in overcoming these challenges under the Health Sector Renewal Investment Program.
“Let me use this opportunity to re-establish the commitment of the WHO, towards providing technical support, as a member state organisation, towards the healthcare needs of the country.
“Our emerging 4th Country Cooperation Strategy has taken inspiration and direction from the health priorities of the renewed hope agenda, and the four strategic pillars of the Health Sector Renewal Investment Program of the Federal Ministry of Health.
He said the network of field offices was already responding to the ever-changing contextual needs of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).