Nigerian billionaire, Aliko Dangote, has proposed the introduction of a health fund financed by private companies.
The facility, which will cover public healthcare cost in the country, will be financed by a percentage of profits made by private companies.
Mr. Dangote said this Thursday while addressing an expanded meeting of the National Economic Council.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo chaired the NEC meeting attended by 34 state governors. Ministers of Health, Education and Finance also attended.
Mr. Dangote, who spoke on his capacity as chairman of the Dangote Foundation, said the government should introduce a fund that has one percent of private companies profit, to be used for basic healthcare funding, as obtained in the education sector.
He said there is a need to start seeking alternative funding for the healthcare sector because with the rebasing of the economy, Nigeria will soon be ineligible for health grant from Global Alliance for Vaccine (GAVI), World Bank and others.
“The funds will no longer be available for primary healthcare development which is the crux of health care in the country. One of the things we are suggesting that will ensure we fund our health sector very well, is for private sector to give one percent of their annual profit. That will actually help in raising quite a lot of money because since the rebasing of the economy,” he said.
American business mogul, Bill Gate, had earlier in his welcome address said the primary healthcare system in Nigeria is broken and it is an evidence in the epidemic of chronic malnutrition, or stunting.
He said one of the main focus of his foundation is primary health care and reasons are because they know that a strong primary health care system takes care of 90 percent of people’s health needs.
Mr. Gates, in his speech, said Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth with the worst maternal mortality rate in the world, ahead of Sierra Leone, central Africa Republic and Chad.
He also said one in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished.
According to him, chronic malnutrition is not a disease children catch. It is a condition that develops over time because they are deprived of a diverse diet and the services a strong primary health care system provides.
“The primary health care system is not adequately funded. But it also does not get the most of its current funding. He said more transparency would lead to more accountability which would strengthen governance, leadership and management which would improve quality across the board,” he added.
Kaduna state Governor, Nasir El’Rufai, while briefing reporters after the NEC meeting said as governors, they are committed to scaling up what Dangote and Gates have been doing in our healthcare systems.
He said Kaduna state is one of the state’s that has benefited strongly from the partnership, by giving the state money and more importantly helping them focused on what is really important.
El’ Rufai said Nigeria is going to be 411 million people by 2050. Today, more than half of our population is very young and unless we try to educate them and by ensuring that they are healthy, we will face a demographic disaster.
According to him, India and China have shown that a large population is not a problem, the problem is getting that large population to be productive by getting them sound education and good healthcare.
“Unfortunately, this country has been consistently under-investing in healthcare, our investments in education is are below average even in Africa, our tax revenue in terms of GDP is the lowest in the world.
Mr. El’rufai said the country will be moving towards disaster unless the leaders recalibrate and focus in collaboration with the private sectors and donors, to put our money into the future of our people.
He said there are several primary healthcare centres across the country which are just buildings without drugs, nurses and doctors and equipment.
“But with this proposal, we hope to move forward, I think we have robust funding because it will be money that will be well spent.
“The bulk of the burden for healthcare and education really rests on states governments. The disease burden of the country is largely at the primary healthcare level and this primary healthcare system is broken completely, we need to rebuild it. It is the responsibility of the states rather than the federal government,” he added.