In order to strengthen the primary healthcare system in Nigeria, governors of the 36 states of the federation under the auspice of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have pledged to progressively increase primary health care funding by ensuring efficient budgeting that is aligned to annual operational plans.

Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi who doubles as the NGF Chairman, made the declaration Wednesday at the launch of the Primary Healthcare Center Leadership Challenge with the theme: “Exceptional Leadership, Resilient PHC, Better Outcomes”, held at the State House Conference Center, Abuja.

Fayemi, on behalf of the 36 governors promised promptly release the approved budget to the state primary health care board and primary health care facilities.

They also pledged to recruit the requisite health workforce to ensure that all primary health care facilities have the minimum staffing requirements appropriate for their level in line with the state’s minimum service package.

“On behalf of all of us, the 36 state governors, and members of the Nigerian Governor forum, this is our statement of commitment to strengthening the primary health care system in Nigeria.

“Following the induction to the Seattle Declaration by 36 governors of Nigeria in November 2019. The Nigerian governors' forum representing the 36 states of the Federation, hereby affirms our commitment to strengthen the primary health care system in the country.

“We, therefore, adopt and confirm our commitment in line with the Seattle Declaration as outlined below; improving the governance of the primary healthcare system at a sub-national level by fully implementing the primary health care under one roof policy, and providing active leadership for primary health care through regular engagement with relevant Primary Health Care stakeholders, and quarterly Primary Health Care performance review at the State Executive Council meetings

“Promote a progressive increase in primary health care funding by ensuring efficient budgeting that is aligned to annual operational plans, promptly releasing approved budget to the state primary health care board, and primary health care facilities, and ensuring that there is a mechanism in place for basic health care provision, fund implementation and oversight at the state and facility levels.

“Recruit requisite health workforce to ensure that all primary health care facilities have the minimum staffing requirements appropriate for their level in line with the state’s minimum service package.

“Institute a culture of use of evidence for decision making, by ensuring that the data quality across all primary health care facilities is progressively improved.

“Develop a state-led and state on local government area levels, Primary Health Care leadership challenge for local government area chairmen, for sustainability and strengthening the commitment of the local government area chairmen to primary health.”

On his part, the Country Director, Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, Jeremie Zoungrana, while congratulating the governors for accepting to support and be part of the PHC Leadership Challenge Initiative, said that PHC Challenge Fund represents a unique opportunity to motivate and publicly recognize ownership and leadership at the subnational level.

According to him, the PHC health indicators will be tracked to support the NGF build Governor-level accountability, improving performance management, and enhance investments in critical areas of PHC.

“The Challenge Fund will also leverage other BMGF investments that focus on improving state-level data ownership, analysis, quality, and use.

“Under the Challenge, all 36 states are eligible for monetary grants awarded to one best performing and one most improved state within each of the country’s six geopolitical zones demonstrating the most progress against all indicators as per the agreed performance results framework as well as one state nationally displaying the most improved performance (total of 13 awards).

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is fully aligned with the Government of Nigeria’s determination to reform and revitalize PHC through the current effort by the Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agenda.

“We are encouraged by recent reports showing improvement in routine immunization, Skilled birth attendants, Nutrition, Malaria coverage indicators, and declining cases of CVDPV2. This is encouraging and you all should be proud of this achievement.”

Also speaking, both the CAN President, Rev. Daniel Okoh, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, re-echoed the need to increase the budgetary allocation to PHC.

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on his part, said even though many states have begun implementing initiatives, much remains to be done, especially the pillars of the minimum service package, repositioning and restructuring human resources for health, where there is a shortage of trained staff at PHC level.

The Executive Director/CEO of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuiab, on his part explained why the leadership challenge is necessary.

He said: “So why do we need a leadership challenge? The most critical thing is not about the competition. It is about how you can promote peer review, peer learning, and, of course, a little bit of competition among the states. In the end, it’s not about the competition, but how we use this leadership challenge as a platform to promote human capital in our states. So in the end, there’s a performance framework that has been developed, it’s complicated, and we don’t have the time to go through all these indicators.

“But the indicators that we are going to be using in the challenge are political leadership, and community economics, finance resource allocation, the quality of care in the primary health care centers.”

He added that “it’s also important that we monitor to evaluate the outcomes of our investments and make sure that these are done in a way that strengthens institutions and enhances sustainability.”

The governors who attended the meeting include the governors of Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi, Babagana Zulum of Borno, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe, Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara, Hope Uzodinma of Imo, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun.

Also in attendance are the Deputy Governors of Kogi, Edward Onoja, Adebayo Lawal of Oyo, Moses Ekpo of Akwa Ibom, Cecilia Ezeilo of Enugu, and Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo of Bayelsa.




By Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye,
The Sun

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