BusinessDay

DON advocates increase budgetary allocation, wider insurance coverage to tackle maternal mortality in Nigeria

Vincent Iyawe, Immediate past provost college of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, says increased budget allocations, wider health insurance coverage are crucial to mitigating maternal and child mortality in Nigeria, particularly in rural areas.

Iyawe who posited this at the 27th Annual Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) Development Forum in Benin City, said improved healthcare can be achieved in Nigeria if the nation’s budget for the health sector move from four or five percent to more than 10 per cent of the national budget.

Speaking on the theme, “Improving access to quality maternal and child healthcare in rural communities: issues and perspectives,” he explained that mothers and children are important economic drivers, and their health is critical to sustainable economic development in Nigeria and Africa at large.

He identified funding, non-availability of health workers, non-sustainability of health infrastructure and paucity of information as well as poor statistics as bane of poor health services.

The physician noted that collaboration between public and private is imperative to ensuring an efficient and affordable health care delivery system, particularly for pregnant women and children.

The professor, who advocated training and retraining of health workers in areas of life saving skills called for conducive working environment and special allowances for health workers to alleviate brain drain in Nigeria.

Earlier, Godwin Ehigiamusoe, chief executive officer LAPO said the topic is apt at the time Nigeria’s health infrastructure is in a dire emergency, while women and children particularly rural dwellers face barriers to accessing healthcare.

He called for joint efforts between governments and non-state actors to reducing maternal and child mortality.

Ehigiamusoe, who lamented unchecked exodus of skilled health practitioners noted that health institutions are bleeding and serious efforts must be made by the government.

“Private investment in the health sector is urgently needed. It may not be very attractive in terms of financial returns, but its returns on human wellbeing and development is enormous. Also, efforts of various agencies towards universal access to healthcare through responsive health insurance schemes should be re-doubled.

“We urgently need informal community-based health insurance schemes which serve the poor and rural dwellers,” he said.

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