Renewed, Resilient PHC System, Backed By Sustainable Financing Possible In Nigeria – Fayemi

The Chairman of Nigeria Governors, Forum, and the Ekiti State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi said renewed and resilient primary health care system, backed by sustainable financing is possible in Nigeria and must be part of our country’s post-COVID story.

He made this known at the 2022 PHC Financing Forum hosted by the Nigeria Health Commissioners’ Forum and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in partnership with the World Bank, USAID, UK-FCDO, and
the BMGF.

Fayemi was represented at the occasion by Nasarawa state governor, Abdullahi Sule said, the challenge before us, is ensuring primary health care in Nigeria is financed sustainably to ensure risk protection, adequate infrastructure, and human resources and the delivery of quality health services.

According to Fayemi: “To solve the problem of financing for primary health care and meet the demands for a responsive and high-performing health system, we must approach PHC financing and service delivery with four key focuses in mind:

1. The utilization of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) to finance essential health services, especially for the vulnerable, and to improve the country’s capacity to address public health emergencies.

2. Consolidate funding to address primary care and essential public health functions. 

3. An increase in budgetary allocations for healthcare both at the national and State levels.

4. The exploration of innovative ways to pool funds for non-contributory healthcare coverage.

“It is globally agreed that equitable access to Primary Health Care is a key component of all high-performing health systems and a pre-requisite for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“It is on this backdrop, that I affirm that the theme of this inaugural forum “Financing Primary Healthcare in Nigeria” and the deliberations that have occurred during this event are apt and timely because they touch on an issue that is critical to the foundation of sustainable development and the future of health in Nigeria.

“As we may know, health systems are driven by their financing arrangements, and this includes the number of funds they receive, how these funds are distributed across the system, and how they are utilized to provide equitable access to services.

“Health financing is a critical building block of the health system that directly affects the functionality of the overall system, and until we address the issue of poor funding for health and the fragmentation of the health financing arrangements in Nigeria, we will make little headway in our pursuit for Universal Health Coverage.

“It is a fact that the right to health is a fundamental human right. However, the ability of our country to guarantee this right for all Nigerians has been slow, largely due to how the health system is financed and delivered.

“This has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has exposed significant weaknesses in our health sector, especially in Primary Healthcare. As we now know, countries with strengthened primary health care systems are better equipped to respond”, he further said.

It is encouraging to know that varying degrees of effort are already in place to achieve some of these focuses. For instance, a good number of States have established their State Health Insurance Schemes and have purchased explicit packages of health services for their citizens. States are also increasingly taking advantage of the BHCPF programme to expand access to primary health care and service delivery. Some States like Ekiti are working with partners to adequately quantify the medium- and long-term costs of providing a Basic Package of Health Services for vulnerable groups to ensure sustainability and evidence-driven financing.

However, for these efforts to achieve population-level outcomes, we must collectively encourage and catalyze them at scale.

Given this, the Nigerian Governors Forum at the recent launch of the Primary Health Care Leadership Challenge committed to a progressive increase in State-level funding for primary health care through the provision of efficient budgetary allocation that aligns with our annual operational plans.

The NGF remains committed to working with the Federal Government and all partners to achieve our goals for primary healthcare and universal health coverage.

The Forum is to support and align with the strategies and interventions of the Federal Government aimed at improving Primary Healthcare financing and service delivery in Nigeria.

Also speaking, the Governor-elect, of Ekiti State, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji said this declaration launched a movement that has driven global efforts to achieve universal health coverage through the provision of quality and comprehensive healthcare for all individuals without financial burden to them.

These efforts and achievements have laid a great foundation for the continuous advancements of Primary Healthcare Financing and service delivery for our incoming administration.

He said he will sustain all efforts toward a resilient and sustainably funded Primary Healthcare system in Ekiti State through a renewed commitment to a PHC service delivery model that guarantees a sustainable provision of an explicit package of care to all citizens.

In his goodwill message, the Director General of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Prof. Nais Mohammed Sambo lamented that we are still talking about how to finance Primary Health Care in the twenty-first century.

He added that NHIA is the biggest opportunity for financing Primary Health Care, saying, 83 million vulnerable will be financed. Governors should also ensure that the vulnerable, the poor, and the downtrodden are covered under this arrangement.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice Chairman, Health Commissioners’ Forum and Commissioner of Health, Dr. Muhammad Lawan Gana said on October 25th, 2018, countries around the world agreed to the Astana Declaration promising to strengthen their PHC systems as an essential step towards achieving UHC, a further affirmation of the Alma Ata declaration made in 1978.

Four years post-declaration, we are yet to achieve the desire of PHC to meet the basic health needs of the population in most Low- and Middle-income countries at least at the rate we are expecting. Public spending is insufficient, access is inequitable and out-of-pocket spending is on the high side, thereby making people bypass PHC facilities to seek care in secondary and tertiary

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Report by Toyin Adebayo,
Independent News

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