Minister speaks on importance of academia in health coverage

Osagie Ehanire
Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health

Academics in the health sector have been urged to channel their researches towards health development as they are vital to improving health services in Nigeria.

This call was made by the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, at the maiden edition of Faculty of Health Science’s Public Lecture, theme: Achieving UHC Through PHC: Lessons from Nigeria’s Saving One Million Lives Program for Results (SOML PforR), held at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) headquarters, in Abuja.

According to a press statement signed by the health ministry’s Director of Media, Boade Akinola, the minister charged the academia to enhance the knowledge base of students on methodologies for surveys, data gathering, cleaning and analysis.

This, he said, would equip health workers to properly examine key challenges to governance health structures, donor organisations, the private sector and civil society in the relationship between health economics and the drive to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as the national responsibility of governments.

“As drivers of frontiers of knowledge and interrogators of processes, products of academic research efforts are vital to the development of the health sector and the ability to improve on providing health services in an equitable manner,” he said.

The minister, who chaired the occasion, said the lecture theme was apt, given that UHC is a priority programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He added that the nation’s paradigm shift from investment of huge sums in healthcare without commensurate results to ’Performance For Result’ (PforR) financing strategy was the new approach introduced to power the SOML programme as a flagship intervention to improve Maternal and Child Health, through results-focused partnership with states

In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor, NOUN, Abdalla Uba Adamu, said he was elated to host the event which “provides a window for the public to see what NOUN has to offer towards educational development in Nigeria.”

According to Mr Adamu, NOUN has about 495,000 students while over 60,000 students had graduated from the university.

In his presentation, the guest lecturer and National Programme Manager, SOML-PforR, Federal Ministry of Health, Ibrahim Kana, explained the aim of SOML PforR.

He said it was to deliver high impact, evidence based, cost effective interventions based on six “Pillars” and two “Enablers” with the objective of achieving wider coverage of interventions that currently suffer from poor access and utilisation.

He said lessons learnt so far from the SOML programme revealed that: “SOML has been effective in increasing government awareness on critical Maternal Neonatal and Child Health indicators; strengthen data collection, analysis and utilisation, competition amongst states and provide opportunity for hard working states to earn more money, amongst others.”

In order to make greater progress, Mr Kana called on Departments of Public Health of each University to adopt one PHC per senatorial district; conduct regular operational research in those facilities; set standard for other facilities to follow and use as laboratories to test new approaches and techniques.

He further urged the academia to “triangulate with government policies by picking interest in better understanding of government policies and relate with realities; teach students about current government policies; and allow free exchange of human resources from universities to ministry of health.”

In the area of training, he advocated for a reviewed methodology for PHC workers, active and tailored training of these workers and also training on biostatics (collection and use of data).

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