By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – VICE President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Friday said the Federal Government will commence the disbursement of the Basic Health Funds to states in August, next week.
According to him, the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, BHCF, was a key deliverable which the current administration must address
Osinbajo stated this at the third THISDAY Policy Dialogue on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Abuja.
He said: “For the federal government to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030, we designed the Saving One Million Lives Programmes for Results (SOMLPforR) as part of efforts to incentivise states to enable us reward their performance. And we appreciate those that have distinguished themselves in the provision of healthcare to their people,
“Considering the importance of this fund, we will commence the disbursement from August. Our administration have seen this as a key deliverable which we must address.”
He further urged the states to make prudent use of the fund, saying “I will encourage every state to make good use of the funds. States without results will miss out in further disbursements.”
Vanguard reports that the federal government had in 2017 disbursed $1.5m to each state of the federation for the Saving One Million Lives Programmes for Results (SOMLPforR)
Experts at the third THISDAY Policy Dialogue also pressed for more implementation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and private sector intervention as the best strategy to improve Nigeria’s healthcare system.
Speaking at the event, Prof. Aliko Ahmed of Chatham House, London, United Kingdom explained that political leadership was critical in addressing the adequacies in Nigeria’s healthcare system.
Ahmed stressed that the drive to meet the UHC target would only be possible if political leaders show more commitment to healthcare service delivery.
He added that though there had been “a progressive increase in the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the talk about political leadership is a necessary factor needed to improve UHC.”
Ahmed maintained that the challenge confronting UHC goes beyond funding, arguing that “perhaps the issue of corporate governance and leadership” is also crucial as healthcare “goes beyond the issue of funding.”
Health Specialist, Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) Mrs Chinekwu oreh stated that the forum was committed to strengthening the primary health care system across the 36 states.
Oreh stressed that the NGF are advocating for the mandatory health insurance, and are committed to state social health insurance scheme, with the need to serve as interface between the states and partners in providing adequate health care services.
President Healthcare Federation of Nigeria, Clare Omatseye argued that the private sector was a strategic partner that could not be ignored by government.
Omatseye added that “there is no health without quality healthcare, we need collaboration, we need the private sector as a key player.
“The government is building ten thousand PHC across the country, but there is a disconnect between that and quality, policies are required to open up those opportunities for the private sector. The private sector is ready to work with states to change the narratives for health care.”
She expressed worries over Nigeria’s inability to use technplogy and imptove healthcare in the country.
“We are not use the opportunities of technology to leverage healthcare service delivery, to keep our vacxines cool, our drugs. But some people are dying not because the drugs are there, but because the wrong drugs are there.
On the role of private sector, Omatseye cited the example of Lagos State, access to healthcare services had been created, including 43 PHCs in Lagos which have been taken over by private health care providers.
On her part, Trina Haque of the World Bank commended the federal government on the new Basic Healthcare Fund (BHF), stating that,
“we are excited about what is being done with the basic healthcare fund. We are really at a transformation on healthcare, where healthcare financing is now from the federal, state and local government level.
Haque called for the settibg up of “a mechanism to really reduce the burden of out-of-pocket spending on low income earners.
“We want to congratulate Nigeria, the next step is to ensure that money reaches its target. If partners are to come in, we don’t want to see different modalities been set up. We want to see a unified system and modality flowing down to the PHC, we don’t want a fragmented and duplicated system.
“The third is that, if there is a lot of money, it has to ne accounted for, everybody has to account for this money, so that we will know where the money has gone and what it’s been used for.
She tasked government “to focus on maternal, child health, vaccination, ante-natal, pre-natal quality health care that is deliver to people who we need it.”