• Friday, September 22, 2023
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Stakeholders bemoan FG’s performance on health care delivery

Nigerians’ health perception exceeds longer-living Japanese’ – Report

Stakeholders in the health sector have raised concerns over the current state of healthcare delivery in the country and knocked the Nigerian government for failing to prioritise health. They also noted that the neglect was slowing the country’s development.

They pointed out that the lack of attention in the sector is manifest in the slow progress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), low financing, heavy reliance on foreign aid; and consequently brain drain, maternal and under five mortality rate, among several others.

This issue was brought to fore at the UHC engagement workshop organised by the UHC 2023 Forum in Abuja with the theme: ‘The Role of Media in Putting Health on the Political Front Burner in Nigeria.’

To this end, stakeholders charged all citizens, especially the media and civil society organisations to hold government accountable on healthcare delivery, and ensure that politicians who are desiring to be elected in 2023 must make health a priority in their manifestoes.

Gafar Alawode, Chair, managing partner, DGI Consult in his presentation, explained that progress on universal health coverage has crawled, why Nigerians continue to bear the brunt of healthcare, as out-of-pocket expenditure remained above 70 percent.

According to him, achieving UHC requires political decisions and health reforms. He disclosed that countries as diverse as Ghana, Malaysia, India, commenced their UHC journey by putting health reforms on the political agenda.

Alawode noted that 2023 election period creates a policy window for strengthening the interface between the political class and policy entrepreneurs to chart a course of needed action to address health policy issues.

Moji Makanjuola, chair, UHC Forum 2023, said Nigeria was seeing huge gaps in the health sector both in service delivery and policy implementation.

“As a nation we need to start doing things differently to drive sustainable improvement and ensure efficiency in available use of resources. As we prepare for 2023, how do we influence it so that health will be central in their manifestoes.

Read also:Strengthening Primary, Maternal Health Care delivery in Nigerian communities
“Recently, health is not heard of in presidential debates, they see it as an after thought. How do we change this conversation? Ill health has no barrier, age, or political class,” she urged.

Oladapo Ladipo, CEO, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), in his address, stressed that Nigerians cannot be productive and the country cannot develop without putting health on front burner.

“Health should be regarded as a priority; currently, health is not a priority of the Nigerian government, and in many ways, they have demonstrated that. The country has invested a lot in infrastructural development over decades, there has to be change of focus to investment in people. My heart bleeds most of the time when I see what is happening,” he cried.

Muhammad Usman, chairman, National Advocate for Health (NA4H), declared that Nigeria’s health system has collapsed and that the leaders have abandoned it to patronise health care in other countries.

“We must ensure that all the leaders coming in have a programme on health. We must call on political class to do things differently. People should be elected based on what they can do. We are not happy that nobody is talking on health in their agenda,” he urged.

At the workshop, the citizen-led health agenda document was formally launched. It is a health manifesto designed by the UHC 2023 Forum and is aimed at shaping the health policy direction of the major political parties and their flag bearers in the forthcoming general election.

The agenda articulates health goals based on national priorities and international benchmarks, and identify strategic policy shifts that should be prioritised to achieve UHC. The agenda identified strategic shifts to include: policy and resource optimization ; sustainable financing and strategic investment; raising the accountability bar; citizen engagement; strengthen capacity of health institutions at all levels; and multisectoral collaboration.

The UHC 2023 Forum is a coalition of stakeholders including donor agencies, development partners, and civil society organisations.