Muhammad Ali Pate, the potential next Minister of Health for Nigeria, has a big job ahead of him. Nigeria has one of the weakest healthcare systems in the world, with millions of people lacking access to even basic care. Pate has pledged to make sweeping reforms to the system, and he has a blueprint to do it.
In March 2022, the Lancet Nigeria Commission published a report on “Investing in Health and the Future of the Nation”, with the aim to reposition future health policy in Nigeria to achieve universal health coverage and better health for all.
The blueprint, which was co-commissioned by Pate and a group of Nigerian experts, calls for a radical transformation of the healthcare system. It includes a number of key recommendations, such as:
A whole-of-government approach to health
The blueprint calls for all government agencies to work together to improve health outcomes. This includes ministries like education, environment, and agriculture, as well as local governments.
This recommendation is based on the idea that health is not just the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. It is also the responsibility of other government agencies, such as Education, Environment, and Agriculture. These agencies can play a role in improving health by things like providing clean water, sanitation, and education about healthy lifestyles.
The blueprint calls for a major overhaul of the health sector, including the creation of a national health insurance scheme and the improvement of primary care services.
This, the experts said, is necessary to address the many problems with Nigeria’s current healthcare system. These problems include a lack of access to care, poor quality of care, and corruption. The reforms outlined in the blueprint would address these problems by things like creating a national health insurance scheme, improving primary care services, and increasing funding for health.
The blueprint calls for a significant increase in funding for health, with the goal of reaching 15 percent of the national budget. This funding would be used to implement the reforms outlined in the plan.
This is essential to implementing the reforms outlined in the blueprint. The current level of funding for health in Nigeria is not enough to provide quality care to everyone. Increasing funding for health would allow the government to implement the reforms and improve the health of millions of Nigerians.
Pate himself had said that the gaps in the health sector cannot be bridged without robust domestic funding of healthcare when he spoke before the National Assembly during the ministerial screening.
He said the out-of-pocket health spending in Nigeria ($54) grossly outstrips the total government expenditure on health ($12) which amounts to an inconsequential share of the country’s gross domestic product.
It calls for the government to partner with the private sector to improve healthcare delivery. This could involve things like building new hospitals or providing training for health workers.
Health workers shortage
The Commission calls for the government to train more doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. It also calls for the government to provide incentives for health workers to work in underserved areas.
These are just some of the key recommendations in the blueprint for reforming Nigeria’s healthcare system. If Pate is successful in implementing these reforms, it could have a major impact on the health of millions of Nigerians.
Nigeria has a shortage of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. This shortage is a major barrier to providing quality care to everyone. The government can address this shortage by training more health workers and providing incentives for them to work in underserved areas.
The Commission calls for the government to define and urgently implement enhanced research and data systems to support planning, monitoring, and accountability at all levels.
It urged the federal government to create a Nigeria Medical Research Council, with permanent federal funding, to strengthen and coordinate health and health-care research; the establishment of the council should be informed by a thorough review of existing research to know where the gaps are.
It believes that a competitive funding programme targeting investigators at universities, hospitals, and research institutions and complementing other extramural funding systems such as the TETFund should identify research areas based on Nigeria’s burden of disease, with priority given to conditions affecting the poorest and most vulnerable.