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Nigeria’s Government To Release N50bn For Primary Health Fund, Issues Executive Order To Curb Escalating Drug Prices

The health minister said the FG has recruited 2,497 doctors, midwives/nurses, and Clcommunity health extension workers.

Muhammad Ali Pate

The federal government will infuse N50 billion into primary health care as the first tranche of the basic health care fund, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammed Ali Pate, said on Wednesday in Abuja.

Speaking at the fourth edition of the Ministerial Press Briefing, he also disclosed that President Bola Tinubu will soon issue an Executive Order to address the escalating costs of prescription drugs.

The minister noted that the first tranche of money to be released represented an increase from N25 billion allocated in 2022 towards the basic health care fund.

He said the infusion of funds will breathe new life into the country’s primary healthcare facilities, ensuring that quality care is accessible to all citizens.

“First and foremost, let me underscore the key role of primary healthcare in ensuring the well-being of our citizens. Since assuming office, we have prioritised the revitalisation of primary healthcare facilities across the nation, ensuring they are adequately equipped and staffed to provide essential services to communities.

“Through sustained investment and strategic partnerships, we have expanded access to vital healthcare services, particularly in rural and underserved areas, improving health outcomes and reducing the burden of preventable diseases,” Pate said.

He noted that the country has also recorded a substantial increase in the number of women who attended their first antenatal care to equip them with the right information and care to improve their pregnancy outcomes and reduce maternal and child mortality.

The minister stated that to sustain and continue to build on the gains, in the last six months, government had also recruited 2,497 doctors, midwives/nurses, and Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) to bridge the gaps due to attrition, while an additional 1,400 health facilities now have Skilled Birth Attendants to assist in deliveries at the health facilities.

According to him, this intervention had increased the number of health facility deliveries to as high as 230,000 deliveries per month.

He added that the federal government had also made substantial strides in expanding health insurance coverage to millions of Nigerians and safeguarding them against the financial hardships associated with healthcare expenses.

He noted that since the beginning of the administration, about 750,000 more Nigerians had been enrolled in health insurance, stressing the commitment to providing access to quality health for all Nigerians through the Vulnerable Group Fund and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

Pate also announced that since the launch of the HPV vaccine in October 2023 across 15 states plus the FCT, the federal government had successfully vaccinated more than 4.95million eligible girls aged 9-14 years representing 80 percent of eligible girls.

He said the phase 2 introduction is scheduled for May 2024 in Anambra, Borno, Cross-river, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Rivers, Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Yobe, Plateau and Zamfara.

He described the rising cost of pharmaceuticals as a pressing concern, promising that a decisive action to address the issue would be taken.

He said an executive order will soon be issued to curb escalating drug prices in the short term, while the mid to long-term goal involves the domestication of imported drugs within the next three years, in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade.

Olawale Ajimotokan

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