• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Experts seek expansion of private sector role in healthcare delivery

‘Metaphor’ – A paradigm shift in Nigerian healthcare

Leading experts in Nigeria’s health industry are calling for an expanded role for the private sector in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), given that it already delivers over 60 percent of healthcare services in the country.

They believe expanding the private sector’s involvement in healthcare delivery can yield more affordable and high-quality healthcare options for Nigerians, addressing a critical need in the country’s healthcare system.

According to them, countries that have embraced private sector involvement in healthcare delivery have been able to unlock the innovative power of such sector thereby, creating transparency and accountability that translate to efficient and effective healthcare delivery services.

Delivering the keynote address at the 2024 conference of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, Tayo Aduloju, CEO of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) said 90 percent of essential UHC interventions can be delivered through primary healthcare centres, potentially saving 60 million lives and increasing global life expectancy by 3.7 years by 2030.

“Given the government’s limited capacity and competing challenges, the private health sector must be leveraged to unlock innovation and resources for UHC, especially via private healthcare involvement, policies favouring and inspiring PPPs, collaborating with digital healthcare delivery and tech integrating organisations,”Aduloju.

He further noted that private sector providers can introduce innovative technologies, improve management practices, and implement cost controls, leading to a more efficient healthcare system.

“Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can expedite the development and upkeep of healthcare infrastructure,” he said.

Nicole Spieker, CEO of PharmAccess Foundation, delivered a special guest address, offering valuable insights on the innovative approaches harnessing private sector solutions for achieving universal health coverage in Nigeria’s evolving health insurance landscape.

In her address, she noted that healthcare insurance should be seen as a social business that requires collaboration between public and private sectors. She urged stakeholders to explore ways to involve businesses and banks in healthcare investment, pointing out that technology has the potential to promote UHC in Nigeria.

“Private health insurers need capital to expand, and the use of technology can create services for lower-income groups,” Spieker said.

Tinuola Akinbolagbe, CEO of PSHAN, gave a background of the conference’s theme while highlighting the objective of the conference. She noted that PSHAN plays a vital role in promoting private sector involvement in healthcare delivery, considering its contribution to over 60 percent of Nigeria’s healthcare service delivery.

Akinbolagbe said the government needs to use accurate, research-backed data to guide informed decisions.

Iyadunni Olubode, Director of Nigeria Programmes for MSD, said 60 percent of Nigerians access healthcare through the private sector.

According to her, the public sector alone cannot meet Nigerians’ healthcare needs. “Collaboration between public and private sectors in a mixed health system is the only way to achieve UHC in Nigeria,” Olubode said.

She said the private sector brings innovation, efficiency, access, and sometimes investment and they need support.

“The private sector needs access to financing to deliver the desired healthcare. Just as citizens need financing on the demand side, healthcare is a business requiring financing on the supply side as well,” she added.

Following the physical summit, the conference continued with a virtual session on June 27th, open to the public. This virtual conference facilitated the exchange of perspectives and experiences, with actionable solutions to the challenges faced in achieving UHC in Nigeria.

Dr. Leke Oshunniyi, Chairman of the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN), delivered the keynote address, emphasizing the critical role of the private sector in achieving UHC. He advocated for strengthened collaborations and innovative approaches to healthcare delivery.

The conference facilitated dialogue, promoted collaboration, and drove innovation in the healthcare sector.

By bringing together leaders and experts, PSHAN aims to create a conducive environment for developing actionable strategies to significantly impact Nigeria’s healthcare system and its journey towards universal health coverage.