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Tinubu Unveils Ambitious Healthcare Plan For Nigerians 

He charged developed countries poaching Nigerian doctors to also invest in the country’s health sector to keep it afloat.

President Bola Tinubu has disclosed that his administration is prioritizing and improving Nigeria’s health sector through massive investments and allocation of increased funds to the sector in the proposed 2024 budget. 

The President made this declaration on Tuesday at the unveiling of Nigeria’s Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative and the signing of the Health Renewal Compact by Federal, State Governments, and Development Partners at the Conference hall of the State House, Abuja.

The event was  part of activities marking Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, observed annually on December 12. 

According to him: “Delivering improved quality health is an underpinning factor in my promise of Renewed Hope to Nigerians. That hope is ignited here today with the support of all multilateral partners and agencies; health is back on the front burner.

”This occasion marks an opportunity for collective reflection and action as we recommit ourselves to the noble pursuit of health for all. The theme for this year ‘Health for All: Time for Action’ encapsulates the urgency and the determination with which we must approach this noble goal. 

”Health is not merely the absence of disease but the embodiment of physical, mental, and social well-being. It is a fundamental human right and Nigeria’s commitment to achieving Universal Health Care Coverage is reflected in the unwavering dedication of my administration to uphold this right for every individual, young or old, in rural or urban areas”.

Recognizing the importance of primary healthcare as the cornerstone of a resilient, integrated healthcare system, my administration is embarking on a massive effort from 2024 to revamp physical infrastructure, equipment, and retraining of frontline health workers, in collaboration with all the that the 36 states. I say again, thank you for your presence, all the governors here today. 

“It’s not a political affiliation matter, it’s a commitment to the welfare of our people, working together as one single entity. Nigeria, with knowledge, people and determination, we will achieve it, we owe our people this, it’s a promise we made; campaigning dancing, ranting, making promises. Here we are. They gave us the mandate, all we pledged, that we will serve them. Now we must deliver.

“Yes, we agree that funding an investment in health is the cornerstone of a resilient, integrated healthcare programme, my administration will continue to work with all of you in equipping and retraining of frontline healthcare workers.

“Critical to my administration’s goal to provide universal health coverage for Nigerians is our commitment to reduce the financial burden in accessing healthcare, we must help our people. We are currently revitalizing the basic healthcare provision fund to better provide access to essential healthcare services under a full implemented National Health Care Act. 

“We understand the importance of well trained human resources as valuable in delivering quality care and we are committed to investing in training, retention and welfare of health professionals to ensure a skilled and motivated workforce”, he said.

President Tinubu also advised developed countries coming to Nigeria to poach medical professionals to also consider investment in the sector so as to keep it afloat.

He boasted that Nigeria still remains a rallying point for best brains in the medical profession, a development that has seen him budgeting a substantial sum for the sector in the 2024 appropriations currently before the National Assembly. 

“We encourage those Nigerian health professionals in the Diaspora, just like Professor Ali Pate and Tunji Alausa have done, sacrifice their time to come back home and serve their people. Consider your contributions here at home, as we say, ‘Charity begins at home’.

“For the developed countries, who benefited from amazing talents of Nigerian health workers, we’ll really encourage them to consider how to support the expansion of training facilities in Nigeria to replace those that they have recruited from here. You should also look at short and long term opportunities that we offer.

“Yes, we have vibrant, well-educated society, but we need Nigeria to rise…on one side with climate change and drop the health system to decay. We will rise”, he said.

To address the high cost of healthcare, the President said the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) will be redesigned to enhance access to essential healthcare services as outlined in the National Health Act (2014). 

President Tinubu emphasized the coordination and implementation of these initiatives must be non-partisan.

Also speaking at the event, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq affirmed the total commitment of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the implementation of the signed Compact towards Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians.

Supported by about 16 governors on the podium, AbdulRazak said the governors will align with the provisions of the document by domesticating it into practicable and actionable policies and programmes.

According to him: “The NGF secretariat will move to provide support in tracking and implementing the outcomes of this Compact.

“I affirm the commitment of the NGF and to remain steadfast in its determination to make the Universal Health Coverage a reality for every Nigerian”.

Earlier in his speech highlighting several key policy actions of the administration in the health sector, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, explained that the BHCPF has been redesigned as the foundational basis for a sector-wide approach. 

He added that the BHCPF, comprising at least 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, is expected to receive at least $2.5 billion in pooled and non-pooled financing from 2024 to 2026 to improve the primary health system nationwide.

The Minister outlined plans to double the number of fully functional Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) from 8,809 to 17,618 by 2027 across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that these PHCs will be linked to a comprehensive emergency care system.

Emphasizing the importance of transparent reporting,  Pate stated that the federal government will make resource allocation, releases, and  results transparent to all stakeholders, including government bodies, non-governmental partners, civil society organizations, and citizens.

He noted that the increased allocation in the proposed 2024 budget for health and social welfare sectors has demonstrated the political will of the Tinubu administration to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and improve the health of Nigerians. 

”Thanks to Mr. President, the Federal Government is making significant investments in health infrastructure and equipment for our hospitals, as well as the provision of critical commodities, the expansion of health insurance, alongside heightened attention to the welfare of the health workforce,” he stated.

Addressing the rising prices of pharmaceuticals, Pate announced the federal government’s plan to establish a mechanism for the pooled procurement of critical pharmaceuticals in 2024. This initiative aims to lower costs and guarantee quality, making life-saving medications more affordable for the poorest Nigerians. 

”In the medium term, Mr. President’s initiative to unlock the healthcare value chain will see Nigeria manufacturing increasing share of its generic drugs, medical devices, and associated content, such as vaccines over time. This will reduce our dependency on those only keen to exploit our markets,” the Minister stated.

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

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