Health Ministry & Thisday Hold Policy Dialogue
- Written by Oluwafemi Olowookere
The Federal Ministry of Health and THISDAY Newspapers have organized series two of a high level healthcare Policy dialogue in Abuja; titled: THE JOURNEY TO UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE IN NIGERIA,
The dialogue, organized to coincide with the visit of the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyesus to Nigeria was also to jointly shape and articulate the journey on Sustainable Universal Health coverage in Nigeria.
The forum brought together policy makers including members of the Federal Executive council, parliamentarians, development partners including bi- and multi-lateral institutions, entire senior leadership of the World Health Organization, practitioners, civil society organizations, private sector leaders, media, think tanks, intuitions involved in financing and delivering healthcare, Banks, amongst others.
At the Panel Discussion session to discuss Nigeria’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Aspirations – National Strategies to Achieve Resilient and Equitable UHC, the Honorable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the Health Ministry was passionate about Preventive health and health promotion. This, he stressed would require the ‘lateral engagement’ of Ministries of Water Resources, Environment, Women Affairs, Education and Agriculture.
The collaborative effort from the various Ministries, Ehanire explained, would ensure the provision of good portable water, good environmental hygiene and adequate enlightenment about reproductive health, nutrition and immunization programs.
He also called on State Governors to increase their budgetary allocation to the health sector. This, he emphasized would improve efficiency and demonstrate seriousness to the Global world, reduce disease burden, encourage foreign investors and improve Nigeria’s economy.
Also speaking on the same topic, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, reiterated the unwavering commitment of the federal government in making appropriate budgetary allocation to the health sector to improve the health indices of the country.
She further appealed to the various levels of government to also demonstrate commitment by making timely release of counterpart funding to enable the health sector achieve its set targets as spelt out in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Olanrewaju Tejuoso, assured of the Committee’s support in implementing the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund adding that the Committee on health was gaining support from other members of the house to ensure the release of the 1% consolidated fund to the health sector, which in his words ‘’is more crucial to Nigerians”.
Also speaking, the Founder/President, Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Her Excellency, Mrs. Toyin Ojora Saraki, described UHC as investment made for the people adding that successful implementation of Basic Healthcare Provision Fund would go a long way in making community health the bench mark of economic development.
Mrs. Saraki called on Civil Society organizations to support the vision of the WHO by calling on tiers of government to cater for the health needs of women, children and most vulnerable members of the populace. In her words, ‘put your money where your hearts are’ what we need from our government is the political will; so let’s join the vanguard and garner support to do the needful. She appealed.
Speaking on ways to raise support from Nigerian Governors Forum towards achieving Universal health coverage, the Executive Governor, Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, said the health sector must reach out, engage with the Governors and make them understand that peoples’ access to good healthcare is more important than infrastructural development which unfortunately is the priority of most Governors.
He also admonished Governors to set aside extra funds in their budget apart from the mandatory BHCPF to support healthcare delivery in their States.
Dr. Okowa further informed that N100million is being spent on Basic health care development, monthly, in Delta State hinting that his administration intends to invite other Governors to the launch of a program on pregnant women and widows. A platform which would be used to showcase what impact has been felt by his people through programs of that nature.