Africa-Press – Nigeria. Governments across the country have been advised to put in place sustainable means of funding the health sector in order to put an end to incessant industrial action in the industry.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said the only way to bring industrial harmony to the sector is by introducing innovative and alternative measures to address critical funding and human resource issues in Nigeria’s health sector.
At a workshop on “Innovative and Alternative Funding of the Health Sector” held in Abuja, CSJ’s lead director, Eze Onyekpere, led the charge in addressing rising inflation, the removal of fuel subsidy, exchange rate unification, poor funding, and the urgent need for the full implementation of the National Health Insurance Authority Act.
Proposing a comprehensive set of recommendations, CSJ asked for a revolution of the healthcare landscape, ensuring better access and quality healthcare for all Nigerians.
The workshop was part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded “Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement” programme, implemented by CSJ.
The project is aimed at enhancing respect for existing laws and policies while promoting transparency and accountability in public health sector expenditures.
In the face of these challenges, the health sector was urged to make demands to ensure resources keep pace with inflation and to take advantage of new funding opportunities.
According to Onyekpere: “Implementing the National Health Insurance Authority Act is vital for reducing high out-of-pocket health expenses in Nigeria. Universal Health Coverage is the goal, and NHIA will play a key role. The Basic Health Care Provision Fund needs better utilisation and transparency. We must dedicate more funds for service delivery to benefit the poorest of the poor.”
Workshop participants called for increased resources for social health insurance to cover vulnerable populations, as well as optimising the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and ensuring transparency in its management.
Executive Secretary, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Frank Muonemeh, said the pharmaceutical manufacturers were working with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure essential medicines are made available to citizens under health insurance but called on government to show more political will and commitment to addressing the health challenges faced by the citizenry.
The workshop also emphasised the importance of implementing the National Health Insurance Authority Act and establishing a Health Development Bank of Nigeria with a focus on health infrastructure and equipment funding. It also highlighted the urgency of improving human resources for health and addressing the brain drain phenomenon in the sector.
To enhance transparency and accountability, calls were made for the Minister of Health to prepare and present an annual report on the state of health to the President and National Assembly. Additionally, transparency in the management of the BHCPF was stressed, with a call for regular publications and public access to information.
The workshop emphasised the need for collaboration between various stakeholders, including civil society, donors, and the National Council on Health, to introduce peer review and benchmarking exercises focused on strategic targets in the health sector.
Participants at the workshop provided a set of recommendations to address the critical challenges and improve funding in the health sector. They highlighted the importance of innovative funding solutions, accountability measures, and strategic investments in health infrastructure and human resources to achieve the right to health for all Nigerians.
The outcome of the workshop is expected to inform policy decisions and pave the way for a more robust and sustainable healthcare system in Nigeria.