The World Health Organisation, Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has advised Nigeria to speed up the investment of one per cent of its Consolidation Funds intended for basic health provision.
Mr Ghebreyesus gave this advice at the second THISDAY media parley in Abuja on Thursday.
The event which was hosted by THISDAY newspaper, was co-organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UNFPA and USAID/ the Health Finance & Governance .
Mr Ghebreyesus said the organisation’s new five-year strategic plan sets a target to see one billion more people with access to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2023.
According to him, more than half of the world’s population lack access to essential health services, “and almost 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty every year because of the costs of paying for care out of their own pockets.”
He said implementing UHC means much more than just health insurance, “it means much more than just healthcare.”
“It means ensuring people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship,” he said.
He said UHC include the full spectrum of services from disease prevention and health promotion to treatment and care .
“There’s no single path to UHC. All countries must find their own way, in the context of their own social, political and economic circumstances,” he said.
“The foundation of a strong health system is based on primary healthcare, with an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion.
“Such health systems do not only provide the best health outcomes; they’re also the best defence against outbreaks and other health emergencies. UHC and health security are truly two sides of the same coin,” he said.
Mr Ghebreyesus added that the launch of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund represents an essential next step, “by helping to reduce the financial barriers people face when using health services.”
“The establishment of the BHCF provides a great opportunity to turn political commitment into tangible gains, and to rally partners and the private sector around revitalising primary healthcare as the foundation of achieving UHC,” he added .
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said the basic healthcare provision fund program will henceforth be known as “Huwe”.
Huwe, an Ebira (one of the over 500 languages in Nigeria) word means life.
The minister said the name was derived following an extensive crowd sourcing campaign, where ideas were sought from Nigerians on an easy to recall, short syllable word that depicts good health in a local language.
Mr Adewole said Huwe is complementary to existing efforts at the state and local government levels to mobilise resources for health.
He said this should in no way be seen as an excuse for states to underfund or de-prioritize funding for health.
According to the minister, the implementation of the first phase of the programme will commence in a couple of months in three states (Abia, Niger and Osun).
“We recognise that our future success depends on our ability to transform non-renewable (and often volatile) natural capital into productive wealth by investing more in human capital.”
Mr Adewole further disclosed that the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund will provide the platform to expand high impact and life saving interventions to all Nigerians.
He said the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA) will assess on an annual basis the improvements in quality of care based on a set of metrics.
Mr Adewole added that the present administration has targeted the coverage and expansion for high impact reproductive maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH) interventions to underserved populations so as to have an immediate impact on the health of women and children.
Also speaking at the event, the wife of the senate president, Toyin Saraki, said UHC will not only improve health, but reduce poverty, create jobs, drive economic growth, and promote gender equality.