The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on Nigeria and other countries to improve access of their citizens to essential health service.
The Director-General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this in a statement issued by the organisation to mark the 2019 World Health Day. The day is celebrated every April 7.
Mr Ghebreyesus said it is unacceptable that half of the world’s population cannot access essential health services.
The director-general said WHO was born on 7 April 1948 with a clear and ambitious vision: a world in which all people enjoy the highest attainable standard of health.
He said although enormous progress has been made in recent years against some of the world’s leading causes of death and disease, much work still has to be done to realise WHO’s vision.
“Today, millions of women give birth without help from a skilled attendant; millions of children miss out on vaccinations against killer diseases, and millions suffer and die because they can’t get treatment for HIV, TB, and malaria.
“In 2019, this is simply unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Ghebreyesus called for a strong and sustainable primary health care, saying “it is the bedrock of universal health coverage.”
He said the primary health care system is the best defence against outbreaks and other health emergencies.
“The good news is that there is a growing movement to address these inequalities.
“Although there will always be outbreaks and other disasters with health consequences, investing in stronger health systems can help to prevent or mitigate them,” he said.
In Sustainable Development Goals, the world has committed to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030.
Speaking in a similar vein, WHO Officer in Charge in Nigeria, Rex Mpazange, said the global health body is committed to working with the Nigerian government to achieve universal health coverage.
The international health agency acknowledged the actions taken by Nigeria towards UHC in terms of population coverage, financial risk protection, and physical access to essential healthcare especially to those in need.
Mr Mpazange said the National Health Act, 2014, and the National Health Policy, 2016, provide the legal and policy frameworks for the realisation of UHC as a key agenda of the government.
He said it also serves as the impetus for the community and civil society action to demand health as a fundamental human right.
“It is noteworthy that Nigeria has prioritized Primary Health Care Revitalisation as the main strategy towards achieving UHC. This is encapsulated in the Basic Health Care Provision Fund which is the health financing approach that should ensure progress towards UHC in Nigeria.
“In this regard. the efforts of the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory in establishing Health Insurance and contributory schemes to reduce the existing very high Out of Pocket Expenditure and catastrophic spending in Nigeria is commendable,” he said.
He further explained that the WHO as a member state organisation has deployed her expertise and mandate in supporting Nigeria towards UHC.
“Key to this support is the deployment of the Regional UHC Flagship approach in the development of the Nigeria UHC Framework in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and other partners,” he said.
“The Nigeria UHC Framework is derived from the second National Strategic Health Development Plan which provides responses and interventions to mitigate challenges that have been identified on Nigeria’s way towards UHC.
“My belief is that the implementation of this Framework by Government with support from WHO and other partners will go a long way in improving the health services and outcomes,” he added.
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