The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Saturday said COVID-19 pandemic had exposed Nigeria’s dependence on importation of health commodities.
Ehanire said this in his keynote address, at the end of a three-day 2021 Special National Council on Health (NCH) meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and other stakeholders in the sector.
The theme of the meeting was entitled: “The Journey to Attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Applying Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic Towards Building A Resilient National Health System”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NCH, as provided for in the National Health Act (2014), is the highest policy making body on matters relating to health in Nigeria.
The membership comprises Minister of Health (Chairman of the Council), Minister of State for Health, States Commissioners for Health and Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretariat, FCTA.
Ehanire said that the Federal Government could not afford commodities anymore, adding that measures were being put in place to encourage local production.
He said that there was a law in progress for mandatory health insurance system and effective Primary Health Care system to take care of the grassroots in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.
Ehanire said emergency was the same for all diseases and that there was the need to put measures in place to address it accordingly.
He said that the government would ensure that no one was left behind.
Hoping that the NHAct would be fully operationalise to achieve the targeted objectives, Ehanire said Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) would also be leveraged upon to take health sector to greater heights.
He said the theme was aimed at addressing the unpredictable pandemic that struck the world early 2020 which resulted to stringent measures like lockdowns that slowed down the global economy.
The minister, however, said that efforts and strategies put in place yielded positive results as all the catastrophic predictions on Africa due to the pandemic did not come to pass.
He said that there was need to strengthen the country’s health sector pandemic or not.
Ehanire said the ultimate measure of building a resilient health system would take care of the vulnerable as a line of defence for any other pandemic.
He said that doses of the COVID-19 vaccines were being rolled out with mass vaccination both at the National and Sub-national levels.
The chairman congratulated all the stakeholders for a successful hosting of the special NCH meeting.
He wished that NCH would change the narrative of ‘’leaving no one behind’’.
Meanwhile, Dr Stanley Ukpai, the Director Projects of [email protected] (PAS), commended the FMOH for convening the council on matters addressing the theme.
Ukpai said that PAS works in the area of supporting non-profit organisations to hold government accountable.
Emphasising the importance of reaching urgent milestones in strengthening the health system and healthcare delivery, he said PAS would continue to support FMOH in its activities to promote child and family health.
“PAS was one of the partners that worked with the FMOH towards the successful conduct of this special NCH,” he said.
The Special NCH meeting was chaired by Ehanire, with 635 delegates from the Departments, Agencies and Parastatals of the FMOH, State Ministries of Health, the Health and Human Services Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Abuja.
Others in attendance were members of the National and State Assemblies, representatives of Federal Ministries of Education, Water Resources, Communication, Environment and Population Council, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
Nigeria Governors Forum, Department of State Services and Medical Corps of the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Air Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps.
There were also delegates from Development Partners, Civil Society Organisations, Organised Private Sector, Health Professional Regulatory Bodies, Health Professional Associations and the Media.
There have been four Emergency NCH meetings held since the last NCH, in 2019, Aug. 6, 2020; June 23, 2020, April 21, 2020 and March 4. At each of these meetings, relevant resolutions were made.
NAN noted 35 States of the Federation and the FCT were represented at the Special NCH meeting except Ebonyi State that was absent.
It was agreed by council that the 63rd NCH will hold in Akure, Ondo State in March, 2022. (NAN)