Achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria by 2030 will require strong partnerships between the government and donor agencies, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said.
The minister spoke on Wednesday in Abuja during the strategic engagement between government agencies and development partners.
Organised by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the event was aimed at bridging funding gaps in achieving UHC in Nigeria.
Mr Ehanire, who was represented at the event by Joseph Amedu, the Director health services at the health ministry, commended the funding support by donors for initiatives designed to achieve UHC.
“It is in recognition of your support that the federal government inaugurated the Donor’s Forum on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is a platform for coordinating and focusing the activities of development partners around government strategies, plans and programmes in the health sector,” the minister noted.
The NHIS Executive Secretary, Mohammed Sambo, said there is need for the establishment of ‘health insurance under one roof’, so as to manage all interventions and efforts to tackle UHC funding challenges under one authority.
Even though Nigeria is among African nations that committed to achieving UHC by 2030, over 70 per cent of Nigerians still pay out-of-pocket for care and this negates the principles of UHC.
UHC involves providing effective access, including financial risk protection, to at least essential healthcare for even the poorest and the most vulnerable population.
Mr Sambo said only a systematic health insurance programme will rescue Nigerians from out-of-pocket spending on healthcare.
He called on the development partners to invest (more) in the country’s health insurance.
“You will recall that recently the scheme, in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health and state governments have commenced the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) to expand health care coverage in Nigeria in pursuance of the provision of the National Health Act 2014.
“This development has opened a new vista in our quest toward the attainment of the UHC, which is presently the core mandate of the NHIS.
“Accordingly, as Development Partners, it is obvious that the states will undoubtedly require your interventions. It is in this regard that we urge you to study the matrix of implementing health insurance in Nigeria.”
He also appealed to the development partners to intervene in the areas of information and communication technology (ICT); monitoring and evaluation; capacity building and human development; programme development and quality control as well as other related areas.
Meanwhile, Zainab Bagudu, the first lady of Kebbi state decried the poor coverage of the NHIS. She said the informal sector has largely remained unserved.
She advocated for inclusion of cancer care in health insurance programmes.
Some development partners at the event include: Department for International Development (DFID); and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).