By: Emmanuel Ulayi.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha has reiterated the need for a drastic reform in the Nigeria Health sector using the window of opportunity which COVID-19 has brought that have made Government give special attention to the health sector, calling on Federal Ministry of Health and States to do more in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
He made this call in Abuja on Thursday as he declared open the meeting of Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum where key stakeholders in the Health sector met to discuss with development partners ways to improve the health system in Nigeria.
The SGF stated in his opening speech that the pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to x-ray the inefficiencies in our health sector and even inefficiencies in Economy etc. The weaknesses in our health system became more glaring as we see how even more established health systems in Europe and America buckled under the pressure of the pandemic.
He disclosed that the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 task has afforded him the opportunity to meet with different players and stakeholders of the health system ranging from interacting with States, development partners and key private sectors players to dig deeper, interrogate and x-ray the system better.
“At the Federal level it has provided us the unique opportunity to review the healthcare system which is in dire need of reforms and funding, we need all Partners to get more committed to supporting Nigeria at Federal and state levels; it’s not yet time for fatigue! The SGF appealed to Doctors to call off the strike in the interest of Nigerians!
Minister of State For Health, Senator Oloruninmbe Mamora in his opening remarks harp on the benefit of strengthening healthcare system at sub national level as the fastest way of achieving universal health coverage. He said this will be fully actualised when development partners streamline their interventions to health needs of various States.
According to him it is important to appeal to all sub-national entities to recognise the serious nature of this situation and strategise with the federal government to win the war. We do not have a different response; we have one national response.It is expected that each and every sub-national government should fit into this national response so that we can collectively deploy our resources, strategies and personnel to directly and decisively achieve universal health coverage.
In her opening remarks, Cross River State Commissioner For Health and Chairman of Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum , Dr Betta Edu called on the Federal Government, development partners and key players of the health sector from the private sector to do things differently to see better results. There is need to review Governance structure, reduce fragmentation in the health sector, ensure sustainable Health care financing through Mandatory Health insurance Scheme for all Nigerians, specifically focusing on the development of critical infrastructure in the states, responding to man power needs which will make the health sector at state level more resilient and functional.
Dr Edu stated that one striking issue that the health commissioners have identify is the fact that they have a lot of fragmentation from the national all the way down to sub National level which indirectly affects the system because things are being poorly coordinated, duplicated with alot of wastage and leakages in the implementation of policies and programs. She said there was need to marry various interest at the same time decentralize health care delivery from the Federal to the state level.
She commended the Exceptional Coordination of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVId-19 in managing the Pandemic in Nigeria, Headed by SGF Boss Mustapha and contributions from private sector players and development partners while calling for more support for states.
Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria praised Nigeria for their COVID-19 responses stating that the US Government is committed to supporting the Nigerian Health sector both at National and states as they have always done especially in HIV, TB, Malaria, MNCH amongst others.
The Meeting had in attendance representative of Unicef, World Bank, NGF, ARC, EU, UN, BMGF, Global Fund, GAC, PMGN, Dangote Foundation, Sterling Bank, Zipline, Drug Stoc,and other Development Partners and Private Sector Participants at the Opening Session of the two days interactive gathering.