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Medical experts, policymakers interact on improving quality healthcare in Nigeria

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NIGERIAN health workers and policymakers have raised a concern for a quality healthcare provision and the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) in the country.

The issue was the core of a one-day symposium that was held at the Shehu Musa Yar Adua Centre, Abuja on Tuesday. Titled The Nigerian women and Health Care Symposium, the programme was an effort to ensure that Nigerian women contribute to the drive to achieve quality health coverage for all.

The UHC is part of sustainable development goals (SDGs) that the United Nations member states, including Nigeria, have agreed to achieve by 2030.

According to the World Health Organisation, UHC means all people and communities should receive promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

Giving the keynote address, Ogeoma Okeka, Managing Director of Healthcare Business Support Systems, said Nigeria lack good strategy and governance that would help in achieving quality healthcare.

He said Nigerian policymakers need to re-strategise since no improvements have been made in attaining fair access to quality care.

Okeka said the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has only helped to cover the formal sector but the informal sector was poorly captured.

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To reach the masses for proper health care, he said the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) need to be built.

He encouraged the government to put in place good basic amenities for medical practitioners in the PHCs.

The Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital Abuja, Jaf Momoh, represented by Umar Aisha who is also a staff of the hospital noted that a system whereby Nigerians are provided healthcare without being asked to pay before the services is needed in the country.

“We find unconscious people who may be wealthy but have relations who do not have access to the account,” she said to discourage out of pocket payment for health services.

Aisha narrated how patients stay in the wards weeks after being discharged because of money issues. “Some of the patients stay in our wards for weeks after discharge because we are trying to bargain with them on how they are going to sign an undertaking before being released.

“They offer to pay monthly or seek help from faith-based organisations,” she said.

President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Francis Faduyile, in his goodwill message, said women are needed to improve health statistics of the country.

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“It is important for women to see how we can improve the health insurance scheme and health statistics of our country, he said”

Also, there was a contribution from the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA).

Chuyem Rhoda, the representative appealed to the Nigerian government to give assent to the National Health Insurance Commission bill.

According to her, the main objective of the bill is to ensure the effective implementation of the national health insurance policy that enhances access to healthcare services to All Nigerians; as well as to promote and regulate health insurance in Nigeria.

“This will to a large extent improve the UHC, especially for women and children,” she said.

The new bill was proposed in 2017. Section 1 of the bill states that a body to be known as the National Health Insurance Commission will be established.

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