PSHAN Conference Calls for Private Sector-led Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria

Victoria Ojiako 

Healthcare leaders at the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) annual conference have emphasised the critical role of private sector engagement in achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in Nigeria. 

Dr. Tinuola Akinbolagbe, CEO of PSHAN, alongside other key speakers, highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts, data-driven strategies, and technological innovations to transform the nation’s evolving health insurance landscape and ensure equitable access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians.

Speaking during the alliance’s annual conference held yesterday at Access Towers, Victoria Island, Lagos, Dr. Akinbolagbe, the convener, underscored the imperative of integrating the private sector into achieving UHC.

The conference, themed “Harnessing Private Sector Solutions for Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria’s Evolving Health Insurance Landscape,” gathered key stakeholders including academic leaders, private sector representatives, financiers of private health insurance, and regulatory bodies such as the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA). 

Dr. Akinbolagbe emphasized that the private sector currently provides more than 70 per cent of healthcare in Nigeria, necessitating their active involvement in health policy formulation and implementation.

Regarding future initiatives, Dr. Akinbolagbe expressed optimism about the NHIA adopting an Enhanced National Health Insurance Accreditation (ENHIA) model by year-end, potentially revolutionizing Nigeria’s healthcare sector.

Drawing parallels with the Netherlands, where private entities manage most hospitals while the government focuses on regulation, Dr. Akinbolagbe suggested Nigeria could adopt a similar approach to alleviate the burden on government infrastructure investments. “Healthcare should be treated as an affordable market, crucial amid competing national priorities like education and defense,” she added.

The conference also addressed ongoing collaborations with Lagos State, which recently committed to digitalization efforts in healthcare. Dr. Akinbolagbe praised Lagos State’s leadership role, noting its potential to set benchmarks for other states to follow.

The virtual segment of the conference scheduled for today aims to consolidate today’s discussions into actionable strategies. PSHAN intends to leverage its platform to ensure sustained engagement and implementation of agreed-upon initiatives.

Special guest speaker Ms. Nicole Spieker, CEO of PharmAccess Foundation, emphasized the critical role of the private sector in Nigeria’s healthcare ecosystem.

 “Sixty percent of Nigerians, regardless of socio-economic status, seek healthcare services from the private sector,” Ms. Spieker revealed, while stressing the importance of integrating private healthcare providers into health insurance frameworks to enhance service accessibility and quality.

Ms. Spieker also highlighted the transformative potential of digital technology in healthcare delivery. “We need partnerships to harness the power of digital technology, essential for leapfrogging healthcare advancements in Africa,” she asserted.

 Her remarks resonated with attendees, underscoring the urgency of integrating technology into healthcare systems to meet burgeoning demands effectively.

Dr. Tayo Aduloju, CEO of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), delivered a keynote address underscoring the urgency of establishing a national health financing framework that integrates various funding sources. 

Aduloju stressed the necessity of strategic partnerships between the private sector and policymakers to address the fragmented health value chains and improve service delivery through technology and data optimization.

In a goodwill message, Mrs. Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Head of Sustainability at Access Corporation, underscored the essential role of the organized private sector in advancing universal health coverage (UHC) through health insurance.

 “This conference marks a transformative milestone in our health sector, aligning with the Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme’s commitment to expanding coverage and equitable access to healthcare,” Mrs. Victor-Laniyan affirmed.

Highlighting the conference’s objectives, she emphasized the focus on enhancing the supply side of healthcare delivery. Discussions delved into how private sector providers, healthcare facilities, and insurance companies can collaborate to optimize service delivery, build capacity, improve quality, and integrate innovative technologies to streamline operations and reduce costs.

In a notable address, Dr. Leke Oshunniyi, Chairman of the Health & Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN) and CEO of AIICO-Multishield HMO, underscored the profound impact of PSHAN in Nigeria’s healthcare landscape.

 “Founded by leaders of the economy like Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr. Jim Ovia of Senate Bank, and Mr. Herbert Wigwe, Chairman of the Access Group, PSHAN aims to lead Nigeria towards achieving universal health coverage,” Dr. Oshunniyi remarked. 

He highlighted PSHAN’s significant contributions, including substantial financial support and collaborative efforts with international organizations during critical periods such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing healthcare challenges in Nigeria, Dr. Oshunniyi emphasized malaria as a predominant health concern, affecting a substantial portion of the population. He advocated for comprehensive strategies, including the use of insecticide-treated nets and advancements in vaccine research, to combat the disease effectively.

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