The COVID-19 FATIGUE; occasioned by delayed release of funds from Federal to States!
As Nigeria push for a more resilient health system, that can withstand any pandemic or public health issue, the health gladiators all across the country have met to re-strategize on ways to move the sector forward. The National Chairman and Cross River State Commissioner for Health Dr Betta Edu, chaired the meeting of the Nigerian Health Commissioners Forum (NHCF) in Abuja.
The meeting had in attendance the Honorable Minister of Health who was the special guest of Honor and declared the meeting opened, the Senate House Committee Chairman on Health, the ED National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the ES NHIS, the National COVID-19 PTF Coordinator, all Commissioners for Health in Nigeria (Physical and virtual), World Bank and other dignitaries!
There was a consensus on the need for urgent improvements in the Health System stem functionality, Public Health response, achievements of Universal Health Coverage and the need to kick out COVID-19 as has been done to polio!
Health Security, Health Financing, Health Insurance, strengthening Secondary Health Care, Human resource for Health, security of Health workers across the country and the COVID-FATIGUE were on the front burner!
Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Honourable Minister of Health; on COVID-19 response raised concerns around the drop in the level of testing,He advised states to be proactive and vigilant with the imminent reopening of schools and international travels to prevent the loss of gains in the COVID-19 response. Likewise, there is a need for strict monitoring in states where elections are ongoing to prevent an upsurge. He informed that the second tranche of the BHCPF has been approved and the funds will be released shortly.
While speaking on Emergency Ambulance Services and Management (PPP).
The Honourable Minister introduced the NEMSAS programme which is a strategy proposed to strengthen the emergency services in a manner that is cost effective. FMoH intends to collaborate with the States to drive this through a PPP arrangement. On Strengthening the secondary healthcare system. He advised the States to strengthen the secondary healthcare system and to leverage on human resource in Federal tertiary health institutions in their respective States.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, commended the HCH Forum, and it’s chairman Dr Edu for an exceptional leadership. he mentioned that the National Assembly has recognized the need to amend the National Health Act to align with the BHCPF guidelines.
In response the Honourable Commissioners of Health has observed that the COVID-19 fatigue was as a result of delay in financial support from the FG to States. They Appealed that the Federal Government give priority to the COVID-19 response and release the 32 billion from PTF to 32 states. The called for restructuring of the World Bank /NCDC support to States asking for more flexibility and system structure strengthening.
The promised to Scale up COVID-19 Testing in States, with sample collection centre in every LGA. Testing will also be expanded beyond symptomatic cases and primary contacts, to strategic community-wide testing.
Commissioners called for Immediate release of the SMART Survey result and basic Healthcare Provision fund. This is important to support health system strengthening even at this time where the system is over stretched by COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ag. National Chairman thanked NIgeria Governors forum and all stakeholders for and likewise, she was commended for leadership qualities that has brought the needed integration in national health scheme.