Ongoing health reforms will improve sector – Osinbajo


By Ukpono Ukpong

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the ongoing health sector reform will help to chart out a health System that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st century.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day Presidential Health Reform Committee Retreat in Abuja, the Vice President said that the Federal Government’s ongoing efforts to reposition Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system must include collaboration among different levels of government and the private sector to ensure effective implementation of reforms that will cater to the needs of Nigerians.

“We must recognize that reforms can be complex. And the lessons learnt are there, no silver bullets and no perfect approaches. This is especially true in huge areas such as healthcare. Previous efforts must be taken into account you may have several small and even local reforms going on at different times,” the Vice President noted.

While acknowledging the contributions of past the administrations, Osinbajo said that reforming the health sector remains a front burner issue for this administration.

He said the ongoing efforts will “chart out a health System that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st century, with special emphasis on strengthening Primary Health Care, improving access to Health Insurance, and establishing a platform that enables the country to better respond to future pandemics.

“What is crucial is that we set the broad parameters and vision for the health care system we desire for our people, we adopt a flexible approach that enables us track and incorporate other reform initiatives.

“We ensure that we always have the right people around the table, that there is wide ranging consultation, and that all views are properly considered, that we keep our vision clear through the process and we develop a robust and viable implementation process.”

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Noting the lessons from the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Vice President emphasized that “healthcare, especially public health emergencies cannot but have a multi-disciplinary, multi sector approach…. serious health reform must have the same multisectoral approach.”

Speaking further on the need to improve the country’s healthcare system through effective collaboration between states and federal goverments, Prof. Osinbajo noted while previous attempts had been made in the past, the implementation has “either been incomplete, non-systemic or haphazard.”

Pointing out the constitutional responsibility of State Governments in ensuring primary and secondary healthcare, while participating in tertiary healthcare, the Vice President noted that “any reform without the full participation of the States will fall short of a national health reform effort.”

Highlighting the core objectives of the Presidential Health Reform Committee, the Vice President stated that addressing question of universal health coverage remained the key objective of the reform process.

“These included the signing of the bill establishing the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), by the President in 2018, to enable the agency to respond to the challenges of public health emergencies and enhance Nigeria’s preparedness and response to epidemics through prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases.

“In May this year, President Buhari also signed into law the National Health Insurance Authority Act 2022. The VP noted this was “an important milestone for health financing in Nigeria, as it will mitigate the current difficulties of out-of-pocket expenses and create a virtuous cycle.”

“It means that more money will be available for payment of medical personnel and for hospital facilities and resources. Ultimately health insurance will accelerate our journey to universal health coverage through health insurance for all categories of Nigerians via a mandatory mechanism, in collaboration with State health insurance agencies,” he added.

Prof. Osinbajo also highlighted the focus of the Primary Healthcare Summit held earlier this year, “towards re-imagining primary healthcare in Nigeria, where a case was made for private partner partnerships to complement on improving infrastructure, availability of health commodities, health workforce and use of evidence to deploy resources.”

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire delivered the opening remarks at the event while Director of Health Planning, Research and Statistics in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Ngozi Azodo presented a paper on “Lessons Learnt from Previous Reforms”.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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