• Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Health sector can boost Nigeria’s GDP— Filani

Presidency, National Assembly urged to readdress funding of agencies in health sector

Oyebanji Filani, the chairperson of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum, says the country’s health sector can become the net contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

Speaking during the 4th leadership breakfast meeting held in Ekiti on Friday, Filani said the programme has facilitated as much as $5.5 million worth of business in the healthcare sector in the last three years.

Yobe, Kaduna, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Niger and Ekiti are the pilot states where the programme is running since 2021.

Read also: What Nigerian government must prioritise to revive health sector – USAID

“Between 2021 and today, we have done business together for just a little over $5.5 million using the current exchange rate. If we had this discussion, three months ago, that $5.5 million would probably be $8.5 million. Now, imagine, if we scale this across the entire nation in terms of the resources available to build the pharmaceutical companies’ capacity and move the health sector to becoming the net contributor to the Nigerian GDP.”

The Federal Government intends to improve the availability of healthcare commodities through essential medicine programmes to achieve universal health coverage.

The programme is being implemented through public-private partnerships (PPP) facilitated by the Africa Resource Centre for Excellence in Supply Chain Management (ARC_ESM).

Under the arrangement, the six states in the pilot projects procure their health commodities from local pharmaceutical companies.

He said the pooled procurement of commodities in the health sector has proved to be cost-saving, noting that N219 million was saved across four states in the last three years.

“Yobe recorded the highest percentage of contribution to the overall cost of saving at 53 percent. The state also recorded the highest volume of commodities,” he said.

“In just the small approach that we put together, we have been able to save patients N219 million that they now have in their pockets that either use to buy food or use for something else.

“There are cost-savings that can be made. It is less than three years, we have done $5.5 million.

“Imagine that we begin to expand and scale up, there is a huge amount of resources that we can retain internally in the country to spur productivity and growth in our pharmaceutical industry to ensure that you are planning and for us in the public place to guarantee good quality drugs and ensure that we can lock in prices for a related period so that we also plan accordingly. We look forward to working with everybody.”

The commissioner also has praised the performance of Yobe and five other states in the implementation of the programme.

“You can see that states are moving in the right direction, particularly for the primary healthcare facilities,” he said.

Read also: Nigeria’s health sector loses steam in first half

“Sokoto for instance, started with one percent of their primary healthcare facilities covered now they have about 12. You have Niger State that moved from 19 to 25. Yobe has done exceptionally well, 70 percent of the primary healthcare facilities are now covered under this programme. Ekiti is also moving in the right direction from 20 percent to 52 percent.”

Also speaking, the chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group for MAN (PMG–MAN), Oluwatosin Jolayemi, assured that local manufacturers of drugs were ready to serve the nation.

“The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry is ready. We are ready to serve the nation in the capacity that God has given us. We are ready to do all we can to give quality medicines and at the same time, we need the states that are going to join us to work in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and all the people that would help this process,” Jolayemi said.

Okey Akpa, the managing director of SKG Pharma Ltd, praised ARC_ESM and its CEO, Azuka Okeke, for the high level of commitment they have secured from the Pharma Group for the implementation of the project.