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  • Monday, June 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria needs $82bn to plug healthcare financing gap

Nigeria needs about $82 billion to plug its healthcare financing gap, says the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Gabriel Idahosa, president/chairman, council of LCCI, at a recent seminar with the theme ‘Healthcare financing: Bridging the gap,’ said improving healthcare financing has emerged as a critical imperative for Nigeria, not only to alleviate the financial burden on its citizens but also to fortify the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

Idahosa, who was represented by Chinyere Almona, director-general of LCCI, emphasised the urgency of transforming Nigeria’s healthcare ecosystem, citing the need for substantial funding and a stable policy environment.

“Transforming Nigeria’s healthcare ecosystem requires significant funding to address the challenges that investors and lending institutions face and a stable policy and regulatory environment,” he said.

He highlighted the fundamental human right to quality healthcare and the stark reality that many Nigerians still lack access to essential services due to affordability issues.

“Access to quality healthcare is a fundamental human right, but a significant portion of the Nigerian population still lacks access to vital healthcare services due to affordability issues,” he said.

Nigeria currently allocates approximately 3.7 percent of its GDP to healthcare, an allocation that falls short compared to countries with similar GDP.

The country’s health system ranked 157th out of 167 countries surveyed by Statista in 2023, reflecting its challenges in healthcare delivery.

Idahosa highlighted the financing gap of over $82 billion, underscoring the urgent need for a transformative approach to healthcare financing.

Speaking also, Akin Abayomi, health commissioner, Lagos State, stressed the critical role of healthcare financing in Nigeria’s development.

“Our job as government is to make sure that everybody gets standard healthcare without spending out of their pocket,” he said.

“A well-funded health ecosystem in Nigeria will make healthcare affordable, accessible and of the highest quality. It will also curb medical tourism and reverse the ‘japa’ plaguing Nigeria’s health sector.”

Abayomi emphasised the importance of using insurance funds to regulate and stratify the healthcare sector.

In his keynote address, Fola Laoye, CEO, Iwosan Investments Limited, drew attention to the dire consequences of Nigeria’s healthcare financing gap, citing a significant disparity between recommended funding levels and actual expenditures.

“The healthcare financing gap is an important issue for all of us because it impacts the level of healthcare available in the country and ultimately the livelihood of underprivileged Nigerians,” she said.

“We have a life expectancy of 55 years, which is due to the level of disease and the lack of investments required to tackle it.”

Laoye also advocated for increased private sector involvement, particularly in critical sectors such as oncology and cardiology, to improve healthcare outcomes.

“We’re seeing big strides by the government in funding healthcare, but the private sector also has to walk with the government in investing for the long term. This can help build more infrastructure, ensure availability of drugs and consumables, and train medical professionals,” she added.

“As Nigeria works towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring healthy lives for all by 2030, the need for enhanced healthcare financing is paramount,” she said.

“With concerted efforts and innovative strategies, stakeholders can bridge the financing gap and ensure that all Nigerians have access to quality healthcare services.”

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