The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has urged the Federal Government to increase the fund allocated to primary health care in the country.
The NGF stressed that the efficiency of the processes of fund distribution and how they are utilised remains critical to providing access to healthcare for all.
According to the NGF, the country cannot continue to rely on donations from international bodies for the financing of primary health care.
It noted that while the government continues to grapple with limited resources to fund the various sectors, domestic and innovative sourcing of funds will not only solve the problem of poor funding of primary health care, but will reduce huge out-of-pocket expenses by citizens, and lead to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030.
The Chairman of the NGF, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, made this known in Abuja on Wednesday during a two-day forum titled ‘Financing Primary Health Care in Nigeria: Expanding the Frontiers at the Sub-National.’
The ongoing forum is organised by the NGF, the Nigeria Health Commissioners, and other development partners.
Fayemi, who was represented by the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, said Nigeria had many options for funding PHC, and that there was so much money sitting in so many other places which must be channeled towards healthcare financing.
He said, “To solve the problem of financing for primary health care and meet the demands for a responsive and high-performing health system, we must approach PHC financing and service delivery with four key focuses in mind: The utilisation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund to finance essential health services, especially for the vulnerable and to improve the country’s capacity to address public health emergencies.
“We must consolidate funding to address primary care and essential public health functions. We must also explore innovative ways to pool funds for non-contributory healthcare coverage.”
Also speaking, the Vice Chairman, NHCF and Yobe State Health Commissioner, Dr. Muhammad Lawan said there is a need to review the current challenges and lessons learnt from Nigeria’s flagship PHC initiative.
“We have seen repeatedly that primary health care drives improvements in immunisation, communicable and non-communicable diseases, maternal health, and nutrition. Rethinking primary healthcare investments can secure sustainable and more holistic development for the Nigerian health sector. We can move the brick by working together to build a safer and healthier Nigeria for all of us.
“It is also paramount that we recognise the unwavering support of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in all activities of the Nigeria commissioners for health forum.
“While we continue to advocate the NGF for sufficient investment in the health system, we must also be reminded that health access must be more equitable and efficient and we must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable Nigerians, including women and children,” he said.
The UNICEF Chief of Health, Dr. Eduardo Celadis, in his remarks disclosed that Nigeria currently has the second highest out-of-pocket expenditure in the world. He, therefore, urged the government to reduce the inequalities in access to quality healthcare, that is, between the rich and poor, the Northern and Southern regions.
He said: “There are huge out-of-pocket expenses, which is the second highest in the world. The National Health Insurance Authority Act is a massive opportunity. Also, with the BHCPF, we now have the instrument to move in that direction. We, therefore, need strong leadership and collaboration.
“We need to get value for money in cost efficiency. We can do more with less. We need efficient use of our resources. We need to strengthen public financing systems, especially at the community level where we can make a difference.”