NGF seeks bills to mandate Sugar Development Council, others to fund primary healthcare system

...Decries poor, fragmentation of health financing in Nigeria

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) is seeking to propose a bill to the Federal Government that will mandate some of its revenue generating agencies to remit part of its proceeds towards funding primary healthcare system in the country.

The Forum noted that, equitable primary healthcare is a key component of high performing health systems and prerequisite for achieving sustainable development goal number three and the universal health coverage.

The proposal was amidst years of agitations by the NGF for a sustainable funding of the country’s healthcare system.

Chairman of the Forum, Kayode Fayemi who made this known at the State Health Leadership Collaborative Forum, held at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Abuja, specifically identified two areas that will fetch federal government money to fund and sustain primary health care delivery to Nigeria citizens.

He said, the two key areas, if backed by law, the country can harness resources to fund the primary healthcare system on a sustainable basis.

Fayemi, who is the Ekiti State governor, was represented at the event by Governor Abdullahi Sule, where he described the theme of the forum, “Financing Healthcare in Nigeria” as apt, especially that deliberations from the parley, hinge on issues that is critical to the foundation of sustainable development goal and the future of Nigeria.

He mentioned the Nigeria Sugar Development Council and the agency handling importation of vehicles as a key area of sourcing funds for the purpose.

According to him, the proposed law will mandate the Nigeria Sugar Development Council, to remit a certain amount gotten as part of the 10% that goes to the council from the proceeds of the backward integration policy of the Federal Government.

“Nigeria consumes between 2.5 to 1.7 million tonnes of sugar annually, with more than 95 percent of this imported as raw sugar and refined in the country.

“And if you know the price of sugar now, then you will understand my language. If that is imported, 10% of the cost of that goes to the Nigeria Sugar Development Council. And the purpose of that money is to promote backward integration. We have gone roughly 10-15 years now trying to encourage backward integration.

“I felt, with due respect, that since part of our health related challenges in this country is caused by sugar, then sugar council, by law, should release part of that money to finance universal primary healthcare,” Fayemi said.

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The Governor equally proposed for the enactment of a law that will also mandate the agency handling revenue made from importation of used vehicles into the country, to remit 50 percent towards funding of primary healthcare in the country.

“Some of these vehicles that are already expiring in other countries we import them into Nigeria and pollute the environment and cause more and more problems. Maybe we need to push for a bill that will make this into a law,” he added.

He said, Nigeria cannot continue to rely on development partners and foreign investments when it comes to financing primary healthcare.

“We must find our way. We appreciate them; we will continue to appreciate them. While they are continuously trying to help us, we must find sources within and especially in Nigeria.

“Nigeria has so many other options and there are so much money sitting in so many other places, but we must find ways to bring out these monies to finance our primary healthcare,” he said.

He however, advocated for the judicious and transparent utilisation of such resources in order for the people to benefit directly from such initiatives.

Fayemi pointed out that, health financing is a critical building block of health system that directly affects the functionality of the overall system, and that until Nigeria addresses the issue of poor funding for health and fragmentation of health financing, the country will make no headway or little headway in pursuit of universal health coverage.

“As you may know, health system are driven by their financing arrangement and this include the number of funds they receive, how these funds are distributed across the system and how they are utilised to provide equitable access to services.

“Health financing is a critical building block of health system that directly affects the functionality of the overall system,” the NGF chairman said.

Fayemi said, even though health remains a fundamental human rights, Nigeria has not been able to guarantee this right for all Nigerians, mostly because of the way the health system is financed and delivered.

“And until we address the issue of poor funding for health and fragmentation of health financing in Nigeria, we will make no headway or little headway in pursuit of universal health coverage,” he said.

On his part, Mohammed Nasir Sambo, Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), lamented that, in spite of collaborative efforts globally and locally to develop effective and functional primary healthcare system in the country, sustainable financing has remained a major challenge.

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