BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Private sector alliance initiates overhaul of Nigeria’s health system

A consortium of top players in Nigeria’s private sector is stepping in to address some of the challenges that have kept the nation’s public healthcare system largely inefficient for decades.

They are deploying a unique approach to expand access to healthcare for indigent and the most vulnerable populations through the adoption of one collapsed primary healthcare centre per local government areas (LGAs) across the country.

The goal of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) is to tackle the health system crisis from its root by developing a facility of certified standards.

Several internal and external assessments of the issues afflicting Nigeria’s healthcare system often show that the persistence of inequity is fuelled by the unavailability of technically competent and evidence-based care to people regardless of underlying social standing.

The Lancet Commission in a report published in March argued that if Nigeria confronts its toughest challenges— a complex political structure, weak governance, poor accountability, inefficiency, and corruption—it has the potential to vastly improve population health using a multi-sector, whole-of-government approach.

Also, some industry stakeholders believe that while the bigger responsibility of investing resources in infrastructure, equipment to workforce rests on the government, improving healthcare also requires robust public-private sector collaborations such as the PSHAN’s initiative.

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Early in 2021, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the biggest financiers of health philanthropy in Nigeria, urged the Federal Government to put its scarce resource on rehabilitating primary healthcare to save the lives of children, rather than spending it on acquiring costly COVID-19 vaccines.

The idea is that millions of lives can be saved if the primary health care system operates at a level that some other countries with the same wealth as Nigeria.

Tinuola Akingbolagbe, chief executive officer of PSHAN said the programme was established on the belief that the African continent will continue to bear the painful burden of high disease mortality long after the rest of the world has overcome these challenges unless the poor state of primary healthcare is addressed.

She noted that health systems strengthening and attaining Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria could be realised through multi-sectoral collaboration.

In a statement sent to BusinessDay, she listed several high-profile Nigerians who have committed to supporting the scheme dubbed Adopt-A-Healthcare-Facility Programme (ADHFP).

They include Aliko Dangote, chairman of the Dangote Group; Herbert Wigwe, chief executive officer, of Access Holdings plc; Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, former group managing director/CEO of Access Bank plc; and Muhammad Ali Pate, former CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), among others.

Themed ‘Bringing quality health to the fingertips of Nigerians’, the ADHFP will be launched in October to raise awareness and understanding of the current state of primary healthcare centres in Nigeria, and highlight the difference the programme will make to people’s lives.

The launch will also recognise the contributions of partners and adopters following the successful revitalisation of two primary healthcare centres in Bauchi and Delta States during the pre-pilot phase.

“By establishing primary health centres across Nigeria, we aim to ensure health and well-being for all people, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” Akingbolagbe said.

“With the mission of creating a Nigeria where everyone has access to equitable quality and affordable healthcare, PSHAN is proud to launch the ADHFP. ADFHP seeks to establish a network of primary healthcare centres throughout Nigeria’s 774 LGAs and implement market-based reforms to give access to affordable services of respectable standards.”

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