• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Experts call for improved healthcare financing to boost economic growth

healthcare financing

Health and economic Experts have called for the need to improve healthcare financing in order to develop activities in the sector for the benefit of the country’s citizens and for economic growth in the long run.

Speaking at the Pre-NES26 webinar themed “Healthcare Financing in Nigeria: Realities, Impediments and Opportunities” hosted by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) held recently, Olorunnimbe Mamora, minister of state for Health, said the pandemic has brought to the fore the inefficiencies in Nigeria’s health system and the barriers to universal health coverage which serves as a ticket that guarantees all citizens access to quality healthcare without financial hardship. He added that as a result, the sector requires reformation which will fully utilize the opportunities inherent in the country’s healthcare industry

“The current estimate of out-of-pocket health expenditure is 77.5 percent and the funding gap for primary healthcare has been estimated at 84 percent. Healthcare financing in Nigeria has suffered a huge setback as a result of the CVID-19 pandemic which has almost crippled our economy, it is however important that primary healthcare is prioritized.” he said.

The minister also said that sustainable investment in the healthcare sector is vital for national economic prosperity and growth, adding that nations that priorities its citizens’ health tends to be economically productive and viable.

Yinka Sanni, chief executive officer (CEO), West Africa Standard Bank Group who doubles as a board member of the NESG, in his remarks, said the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for the country to deepen and rethink its approach to healthcare financing.

“In Nigeria, the perennial challenge of poor infrastructure and shortage of Health workers due to decades of under-investment in healthcare has been exacerbated by the pandemic and its economic fallouts. It has brought to the fore the need to strengthen the country’s health system to build resilience against future occurrences and accelerate towards the attainment of the health-related SDGs” Sanni said.

Ben Akabueze director-general, Budget office of Nigeria, said Nigeria currently has the lowest public sector revenue to GDP ratio in the world, hovering around 8 percent which is about half of the African average.

“Low health care spending is not a reflection of the government’s priority but of its reality, but the government will continue to look for ways to improve budgetary allocation to the health sector” he said.

During the panel discussion, Olumide Okunola, senior health specialist, International Finance Corporation (IFC) Nigeria said achieving universal health coverage requires public financing which is focused on fiscal capacity adding that healthcare should be prioritized in the country’s budget.

Kunle Elebute, chairman, KPMG Africa, reiterated the need for a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s healthcare financing system and called for a public-private partnerships (PPP) model, adding that it was essential to significantly include private sector funding into healthcare.

“We need to calibrate the paradigm of viewing healthcare by breaking it down into different wallets. Healthcare should not be made the significant domain of the government. PPPs should be formed with the private sector for the development of healthcare in the country” he said.

The pre-summit was held ahead of the upcoming annual 26th Nigerian Economic Summit scheduled to hold from October 26 – 27, 2020 which is themed “Building Partnerships for Resilience”, and is focused on mapping the future, new trends, new opportunities, embracing technology and innovation, building resilience, and charting the path to recovery.