By Juliet Umeh
Medical professionals and associations in Nigeria’s Health Sector have called for greater commitment to Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.
The experts who made the call in Lagos during a Health Insurance Conference with the theme “Progress towards universal health coverage,” organised by Healthcare Federation of Nigeria, HFN, in collaboration with PharmAccess decried the static development in the healthcare sector.
The Emir of Shonga, and former chairman National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Haliru Yahaya, decried the static development in the healthcare sector and the lack of basic health facility in the country even as he recognised that finance is the health sector’s greatest impediment.
The Emir noted that 64 per cent of Nigerians finance their health needs and services “out of pocket” and stated the need for collaboration over universal health care.
In his words, “it is every human’s right to get access to quality healthcare by fighting for it”. He added that everyone has a role to play.”
President, Health Care Federation of Nigeria, HFN, Mrs Clare Omatseye, urged Nigeria policymakers and professionals in the health sector to solve the problem of funding in the health sector.
“How do we fund the vulnerable in the health sector”. She narrated the complexities in the health sector, citing the GDP for health in Nigeria,” she asked.
For Omatseye, the core question that must be answered regarding universal coverage is “who do you want to cover, and how much do you have?
On his part, the former Commissioner for Health in Ogun state, Dr Olaokun Soyinka lamented the use of semantics in covering governments’ irresponsibility towards health care particularly at state government level.
In a lecture entitled “Leadership and Radical Change in the Attainment of UHC”, he cited the examples of the National Health Act which spent 10 years at the National Assembly only to be passed into law when it was almost obsolete.
He explained that universal health coverage simply means “the right and quality service to people without impoverishing them”, adding that the reality in the country was the fact that most of the middle class are just one disaster away from poverty.
Soyinka said Nigeria must strive towards subsidised health insurance and quality healthcare delivery service through five cardinal points and radical ideas which he listed as “finance, governance, technology, quality and adequate human resources in the health sector, and non-government sectors’ participation”.