How Nigeria will achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is the topic of study selected for this year’s Senior Executive Course participants of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS).
The topic was reportedly selected by President Muhammadu Buhari to attain UHC. The president directed the course participants to find solution to the challenges of funding for health service delivery in Nigeria.
Nasirudeen Usman, the NIPPS director of studies, explained this Monday during a meeting with policy makers, experts and government officials in Lagos, the country’s most populous city.
He led Group 5 of the NIPSS senior executive course 41 to the state for a continuation of their study tour.
Mr Usman, a professor, said the president was very concerned with the burden of out-of-pocket spending for health.
“That is why he chose this topic,” he said.
Tunji Bello, the secretary to the Lagos State Government, while receiving the visitors in his office described as apt, the theme for the study.
He said it “speaks to the need to not only provide for qualitative and accessible healthcare but also seek means of funding it.”
The official said the present administration in Lagos is “irrevocably committed to strengthening primary healthcare centres towards taking health care delivery to the nooks and crannies of the state.”
Mr Bello, Adesina Odeyemi, the state’s permanent secretary, and some heads of health institutions in the state had a brief meeting with the visitors. They discussed the challenges of funding for health.
For a country to attain UHC, it must reduce out-of-pocket spending especially for its poor and indigent citizens to the barest minimum.
Eleven million Africans are pushed into poverty every year by medical expenses, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In Nigeria, health services are mostly paid for out-of-pocket and those gravely affected already live far below the poverty line.
THISDAY Newspaper reported that the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, while delivering a lecture to the participants of this year’s NIPSS course few weeks ago said the greatest challenge of the Nigerian health system was out-of-pocket expenditure.
He said government was exploring other sources of revenue to address the challenge.
During the meeting in Lagos, Adetokumbo Fabamwo, the Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, said 70 per cent of Nigerians spend out-of-pocket for health.
“This is because the basic health care services that is expected to be provided by both Primary, secondary and tertiary heath care providers can not cover for everyone.”
NIPSS role in Nigeria’s quest for UHC
Mr Usman explained the objective of the study tour.
“NIPSS is the apex group set up to be the main think-tank for the government. The flagship of the institution is the senior executive course where you have an assembling of very senior personnel from both the public and private sector including the military and police and other agencies.
“They embark on a 10-month intensive programme guided by a theme which the president chose. This year, President (Buhari) charged the course participants to find how best to fund healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
“According to him, this is one of the most serious challenges we face as a nation which was why directed us to do a research and appropriately advise him.
“Healthcare delivery cannot be free. someone has to pay therefore we have to device a means for appropriate funding that will be evidence based.”
To undertake this task, Mr Usman said this year’s course participants were divided into six groups. He said they embarked on a local tour of 12 states (six in the North and South respectively).
“It our hope that at the end of the programme, the report that will be submitted to the government will contain key recommendations and strategies for implementation of a better funding mechanism for health.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported that NIPSS commenced a study tour of the health sectors of selected states in the country last Monday.
The visits are coordinated by NIPSS in collaboration with the Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC).
Led by Mr Usman, Group 5 of the senior executive course 41 will spend the next five days in Lagos to understudy the state’s health sector, especially their Primary Health System.
NIPPS is Nigeria’s policy formation centre for bureaucrats, private sector leaders, army officers, medium-rank and senior civil servants. It was founded in 1979.