Keynote Address: First Bauchi Health Summit, By Dr Osagie Ehanire Hon. Minister Of Health Federal Republic Of Nigeria
I wish to warmly thank Your Excellency the Executive Governor of Bauchi State - Senator Bala Mohammed, first for the invitation to be part of the 1st ever Health Summit in the State and also for the warm reception accorded me and the team from the Federal Ministry of Health. I commend you for coming up with the idea of a health summit, among other options, which shows good appreciation of the value of health and your interest in the wellbeing of the people of Bauchi. The title of the summit “OPTIMIZING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN BAUCHI STATE” and the various sub-themes are well selected and reflect the policy thrust of the Federal government of Nigeria, at this time. I have on my part, selected a top team of key Directors and managers of the Federal Ministry, to be here to participate in the discussions and to share the health policy direction of the Administration of President Muhamadu Buhari.
2. The on-going covid-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in global Health systems, but also provided opportunities for governments at all levels to restructure and reset their health agenda and standards. That is the main reason why this Bauchi State initiative is apt and timely. Nigeria’s journey towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) cannot, but be strengthened through such Initiatives.
3. The pandemic is a health problem, but had far reaching negative socio-economic impact on all countries and affected their spending power and instructs the imperative of optimizing the application of scarce resources to adjust spending patterns to meet the most essential needs for the most beneficial outcomes. It is also a wake-up call for the managers of Health sectors of all nations to seize the moment to strengthen and optimize their own national health systems, being the cornerstone of human Capital Development. It further demonstrates the need for intergovernmental and multi-sectorial collaboration and coordination.
The President's health agenda for Nigeria, as in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, revolves around Universal Health Coverage, for which a thorough health systems review is urgent, to ensure Availability, Acceptability, Accessibility, Affordability and Quality. This summit gives us the chance to present the policy thrust. It is subdivided into the strategy for Basic Healthcare provision by National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Healthcare financing by National Health Insurance scheme (NHIS), Secondary Health System Strengthening Program (SHSS), National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System, (NEMSAS) and an important presentation on the Health sector related covid19 Response Action Plan. by the Department of Health Planning Research & Statistics. (NDPRS).
4. The Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 (IMC-COVID-19), which comprised of the Ministers of Health, Aviation, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, and Information and Culture. The IMC-COVID-19 was established to harness multi-sectoral support for the national covid-19 response. This initial response was driven by the 3-month Incident Action Plan (IAP, March 2020) and essentially strengthened and expanded public communications.
5. National Health Sector COVID-19 pandemic response action (NAHCPRAP), plan which guaranteed the recognition and focus on critical pillars of the health system. This plan which was developed working with the States and other stakeholders focussed on key pillars of the Health System which strengthened pandemic response and the continuation of essential services.
6. Although Health is recognized as the cornerstone of human capital development, COVID-19 exposed the intricate role of health as an integral aspect of sustainable economic development, by clearly demonstrating how the economy of a nation is only as healthy as the physical, mental and social health of the population. Fragile health systems cannot adequately sustain a healthy population or a sound economy.
7. Population health and wellbeing has direct effect on economic growth prospects, as low health status results in diminished productivity from worker illness and absenteeism, while a healthy workforce supports industry with high productivity. Health Investment boosts capacity to guarantee robust human capital base for economic development.
8. Our mission as custodians of population health at the Federal Ministry of Health, is to build a Health System that guarantees universal access to comprehensive, appropriate, affordable, efficient, equitable and quality essential health care for Nigerians, utilising initiatives that ensure strengthened, sustainable health care delivery system. The National Health Act, 2014, is a declaration of health for all, supported by several health and health related policies and the National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP), a Health sector development roadmap, which was revised in 2018.
9. We have leveraged the impacts of the pandemic to drive upgrade of the health sector; for instance Nigeria now has over 60 functional public health laboratories equipped for biocontainment and biosafety level 3, compared with just 4, at the beginning of the pandemic. We are also setting up state-of-the-art Isolation centres in every State of the Federation and building the capacity of our health sector workforce and of local manufacturers, who rose to the challenge of making up for shortages of protective equipment (PPE) and sanitisers arising from lockdown and export prohibitions.
10. We must harness the untapped capabilities of our health and social systems by strengthening public-private partnerships in the health space, for sustained economic growth. This collaborative approach must focus on building a resilient health system focused on sound healthcare financing and delivery of quality services; strengthened health information system; improve supply chain for essential medicines and commodities health; better use of new technology for healthcare delivery; and better community linkages.
11. These are reflected in the health system strengthening roadmap of this administration – Health Sector Next Level Agenda (HSNLA) which focus on reducing gaps in the health-related Sustainable Development Goals by 60%; implementation of mandatory health insurance; revamping of Federal tertiary hospitals; ensuring active private sector involvement in the health sector, and reduction of current imbalance between primary, secondary and tertiary health care among other areas of focus.
12. A key component of the HSNLA is the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund. A revised guideline for the administration, disbursement and monitoring of the BHCPF has been developed to reset the implementation processes to better align with the National Health Act, so that all Nigerians including the people of Bauchi State can access quality health care services on demand and at no cost at the point-of-care. Under the present design, the implementation of the BHCPF will ensure the reduction of mortality and morbidity by improving access to health services (financial and physical). We are also using this fund not only to guarantee treatment in emergency situations, but to ensure establishment of National Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance Services Scheme (NEMSAS), which will not nly guarantee availability of an emergency ambulance system, but ensure the reduction of mortality of all causes including ensuring that women do not lose their lives during childbirth, children, especially Under-5’s, will no longer lose their lives to common ailments and vaccine-preventable diseases, and all Nigerians will access to ambulance as well emergency medical services.
13. We also note the change in perception by decision makers, of the centrality of health as fundamental to the competitive placement of our country in the global market space. The realization from lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world that the healthcare in our own country may be all we have to fall back on, has created an awakening and demand to revamp all levels our healthcare system.
14. This knowledge is invoking a paradigm shift in decisions regarding the allocation of public funds to the health sector. There has been a 157% increase in capital allocation to the health sector over the 2020 sectoral allocation. This will enhance the capacity of our health sector to deliver quality healthcare services through the procurement of requisite equipment, vaccines and other facilities and training. Although we are still far from the 15% allocation recommended by the Abuja declaration, we continue to advocate for more resources for health, even as we dedicate ourselves to demonstrating better health value outcomes for the resources allocated.
15. We are resolute on our fight to improve the health of the health sector in Nigeria after COVID-19, through partnerships, such as with the private sector. We also look at this point in time as the pedestal upon which we propel health into the forefront of global discussion, most importantly as a key to sustained economic growth through universal health coverage.
16. In conclusion, I wish to commend His Excellency Governor Senator Bala Mohammed for putting together this stakeholder’s health summit and for all the achievements so far made in the health sector and other sectors in the State. It further demonstrates the commitment of your administration’s commitment to the provision quality healthcare to Bauchi State residents. I want to encourage the State not to rest on its oars and to push forward to ensure that Bauchi State becomes a reference point in the strengthening and operationalization of the State Health System in Nigeria. I want to appreciate all those from their various destinations to attend this summit. With the quality of health and health-related experts in attendance, I am confident that the robust deliberations will foster effective and sustained public private-partnership in addressing key health challenges in Bauchi State.
17. I also want to extend my sincere appreciation to our Agencies and Partners here present for their immense contribution to the health sector. I commend you all for your contributions, especially the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), who are all doing tremendous work for Nigeria. My special appreciation to our Donors and Development Partners like the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, DFID, Dangote Foundation, and others supporting Bauchi State and the entire health sector.
18. I wish you all a fruitful summit.