The World Health Organization (WHO), Pharm Access Foundation, and other health sector stakeholders have joined voices to solicit for increased funding and financial risk protection for the health sector in Nigeria.
The call was made at the ‘Fourth Annual Legislative Summit on Health’ held in Abuja recently with legislators, government officeholders and health organizations, both international and national, in attendance. The call comes on the backdrop that the health sector is not free from finance-related limitations bogging other sectors in the country.
One of the aims of the annual legislative network summit is to propose the enactment of laws that will effectively leverage statutory functions of the legislature in Nigeria for improved health financing, toward effective and efficient utilization of the resources for Universal Health Coverage.
Issues of import to health financing were mooted under the theme “Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Health Security (HS): Two Sides of a Coin for an Efficient Health System”.
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Yahaya Ibrahim Olorigbe, called on the federal government to implement its promise to allocate 15 percent of the national budget to the health sector so as to boost it.
He said: “The demand of the sector from the government, both at the federal and state level, is what was agreed in Abuja in 2001. That is at least 15 per of the national budget was agreed to be allocated to the health sector however since then, we have not achieved that. That is simply what we are asking for,”
He further explained that the motive of the summit was to fix and strengthen necessary legal frameworks on health, so as to bring about quality, equitable and affordable basic minimum healthcare package for all Nigerians.
In response, Vice President YEMI OSINBAJO, who was represented by the minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, told stakeholders at the summit that the attainment of the universal healthcare coverage is one of government’s top goals.
Njide Ndili, the country director of PharmAccess Foundation, showed her delight at the opportunity for government and other significant stakeholders to synergize and work towards strengthening healthcare sector, and also stressed the importance of digital innovations to help improve accessibility.
She argued that leveraging technology to aggregate funding and local resource mobilization, to build the capacity of the regulators so that their laws will provide an enabling environment for innovators was important.
According to her, without government commitment to funding healthcare, achieving UHC by 2030 will be impossible.
Also speaking, Alexander Gomez, the representative of the European Union to Nigeria, emphasized the importance of Nigeria collaborating with the WHO and the international committee on projects that will promote comprehensive health reforms.
Other organizations represented at the summit include the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Nigeria Health watch, amongst others.
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