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Osinbajo: Nigeria’s Health Reform Is Premised On Achieving Universal Health For All

Universal health coverage targets a minimum of 55m Nigerians.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed that achieving Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians is the focus and essence of the Health Reform Report and Draft Bills proposed by the Presidential Health Reform Committee headed by him.

Osinbajo made the disclosure on Wednesday in his remarks at the presentation of the report of the Presidential Health Reform to President Muhammadu Buhari, on the sideline of the valedictory Federal Executive Council meeting at the Council Chambers, State , Abuja.

 Speaking on the recommendations in the committee, the Vice President said “the committee is mindful that investing in health will enable our country to unlock its immense potentials and ensure that all Nigerians, regardless of their social class, can access quality health services.

“Mr. President, achieving Universal Health Coverage for Nigerians is really the essence of this report.

“This is to be realized through the prioritization of government spending on health and boosting of per capita health expenditure by scaling up the National Health Insurance System as the preferred public financing arrangement. 

“This approach is one where the National or State Health Insurance Authorities would benefit from general budget transfers from the relevant Federal or State government,” the VP added.

 Highlighting components of the report, Osinbajo said “the report therefore recommends healthcare guarantee for all Nigerians registered on the National Social Register, currently 12 million registered households, (equivalent to about 55 million Nigerians). The report further recommends that the share of total health expenditure flowing through our health insurance schemes must be more than 10%.” 

The Vice President noted that “we have proposed a number of institutional changes, including the establishment of the National Tertiary Health Institutions Commission (whose function is similar to that of the National Universities Commission) and the National Quality and Healthcare Standards Commission (NQHSC).”

 He explained the decision saying: “in view of obvious funding constraints, the Committee hesitated to recommend new institutions. However, on balance, we agreed that for us to make progress with our human capital agenda, these institutions are essential.”

 Other recommendations, according to  Osinbajo “vary from Human Resources in Health (HRH) issues such as “brain drain” to the expansion of access to primary health care services, Medical Tourism, and mobilizing or leveraging private capital for health investments as well as their role in expanding the supply of health workers for Nigeria in the medium and long term.” 

 In addition, “this report recommends that vaccine manufacturing in Nigeria should be seen from a perspective of national health security rather than purely as a commodity production,” the VP noted.

 Acknowledging the difficulties associated with implementing such reforms,  Osinbajo stated that “there would be a need for global expertise and collaboration. In this regard, local and international development partners are much needed.”

 He also disclosed the proposal for “a programme Delivery Unit in the office of the President. This independent but empowered unit would monitor and drive the reforms. Important parts of the report are the draft National Health Amendment Bill and draft amendments of other relevant bills.”

Osinbajo then stressed the need for successive governments to build on the foundation already laid, noting that “while it was our duty to prepare this comprehensive roadmap towards universal health care in Nigeria, it has become the responsibility of the incoming administration to take this journey to its much-desired destination. And we wish them well in that patriotic enterprise.” 

Deji Elumoye in Abuja 

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