Chatham House has expressed its readiness to support and work with the Nigerian government to attain the much-desired Universal Health Coverage to enable citizens access healthcare without financial hardship.
Rob Yates, executive director, Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House, who pledged the support, also urged government to invest funds from the fuel subsidy policy in providing free health services for citizens, so as to cushion the financial burden endured as a result of increased fuel price.
“It is important that every household in the county sees some benefits very quickly from this policy, and providing universal free health services is one of the proven ways to do this, a very smart strategy indeed. Chatham House will be delighted to work with you through this process. Our commission is on standby to help achieve the noble cause of universal health coverage in Nigeria,” he said
He spoke at a policy dialogue hosted by the UHC 2023 forum with the theme: ‘Setting UHC and Health Security Priorities in the New Dispensation: Getting it Right from the Outset.’
Yates noted that Nigeria has a tremendous opportunity as President Bola Tinubu has made his commitment to UHC. He stressed that political will was the first step to achieving universal health coverage, and without which Nigeria cannot get the financing that is necessary to launch universal health reforms.
Basically, experts noted that the attainment of UHC would ensure all Nigerians access needed quality health services without financial hardship, as data from the world bank shoe that out-of-pocket expenditure health is at 70 percent.
The policy dialogue examines Nigeria’s health policy priorities in the light of the Presidential Committee on Health Reform’s-recommendations and the citizens-led health agenda and chart a course of action. The Forum is a coalition of a wide array of stakeholders, including donor agencies, development partners, Civil Society Organisations and the Media.
In his remarks, Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative to Nigeria, said the commitment of the incoming administration to adopt recommendations in the Presidential Health Reform Committee report articulated in 6 components is a good starting point to “get it right from the outset.”
According to the WHO representative, implementation of these components will see the health system strengthened to meet present day challenges including reorientation of PHC for improved service delivery, improved preparedness and response to pandemics and other health emergencies, and rethinking of solutions to the huge challenge of ensuring adequate, skilled and well distributed health care workers in the midst of rising migration of the critical professionals.
He assured of the continued support of WHO Nigeria and all levels of the organization in policy and technical dialogue to ensure that Nigeria is on the right path to achieve UHC.
The components of the reports are basically: Health Governance, Leadership and Institutional Reforms a critical building block without which Nigeria cannot make progress towards UHC;
Health Infrastructure Upgrades, Pharmaceutical Supply Chain & Research and Development to improve the standards and quality of healthcare delivery across the country; Health Service Delivery and Redesign Redesigning service delivery to maximize outcomes, optimize quality and ensure right-place services by competent providers.
Pandemic Preparedness and Response Strong collaboration, capabilities and governance enhance the ability for public health in Nigeria to respond to the challenges that lie ahead; Health Financing Systems Reforms, a foundational strategy for the scale up of the UHC aspirations of Nigeria;
Human Resources for Health Reforms to ensure a competent, equitably distributed, motivated, and supported health workforce to progress towards UHC.
Gafar Alawode, managing partner, DGI Consult, said that increasing public financing for health is needed, but it is important to ensure accountability and transparency. He noted that countries that have made progress on UHC adopted performance-based budgeting, and Nigeria can learn from that.
The newly appointed special adviser to the President on Health, Salma Anas assured that the Bola Tinubu administration would prioritise attainment of UHC. She disclosed that the president’s objective is to bridge the divide between the underprivileged and accessing quality healthcare by providing financial security.