Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has advocated 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 discussion for a call to reining in on inflation and effectively implement health insurance policies, management of proceeds of fuel subsidy removal and exchange rate differentials to free-up funds for health sector financing.
Speakers at the event said government’s at all levels must prioritise access to health for Nigerians, especially vulnerable ones as part of their benefits from the federal government palliatives to cushion effects of subsidy on gasoline. Proposing a comprehensive set of recommendations, CSJ called for a revolutionization of the healthcare landscape, while 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 aims to enhance respect for existing laws and policies while promoting transparency and accountability in the public health sector expenditure.
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. Onyekpere said, “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 utilization and transparency. We must dedicate more funds for service delivery to benefit the poorest of the poor,” he added.
The workshop participants called for increased resources to social health insurance to cover vulnerable persons, as well as optimization of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and ensuring transparency in its management.
The executive secretary, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Frank Muonemeh, said pharmaceutical manufacturers are working with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure essential medicines are made available to citizens under health insurance. He called on the government to show more political will and commitment to addressing the health challenges faced by the citizenry.
The two-day 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 participants emphasized 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.