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Study Recommends New Funding Model For Sustainable Healthcare In Nigeria

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Chikezie Omeje

A new research has discovered that the different health financing mechanism being used to finance health services in Nigeria are largely inefficient and could hamper effort to provide access to health care for all Nigerians.

The research carried out by the Health Policy Research Group HPRG, Nigeria revealed that parts of the problems in the health sector are not just lack of sufficient funding but the available funds are not well managed.

The research group led by, Obinna Onwujekwe, a professor at the University of Nigeria undertook three different studies on the funding mechanism of certain Nigerian health programs.

A member of HPRG, Felix Obi who made the copies of the three researches available to icirnigeria.org said that they discovered that various funding scenarios show the inadequacy of available funds to meet the needs of the target beneficiaries.

One of the researches, “Financial Feasibility of Using the Basic Health Care Provision Fund to Provide a Basic Minimum Maternal and Child Health Benefit Package in Nigeria,” revealed that the current level of financing will not assure universal health coverage for pregnant women and children.

The Basic Health Care Provision Fund which is a vital part of the National Health Act, stipulates 1% of consolidated revenue to be set aside to pay for a package of basic health.

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The researchers examined the Fund’s feasibility using six scenarios providing basic minimum of care in test states of Imo, Kaduna and Niger, and concluded that the Fund would need to be increased at least fourfold to make a difference.

They noted that this 1% consolidated revenue is not enough but should be increased to at least 4%.

This website recalls that even the 1% has not been implemented after two years that the National Health Act was signed into law.

Obi said that, “What we discovered is that in reality, the money is actually too small. If we focus only on 1%, we might not be able to achieve universal health coverage.

“The funds are not enough to cover all potential pregnant women in each state, assuming that the basic minimum benefit package covers only pregnant women, even using 100% of the Fund.”

In another study on the “Political Economy Analysis of Different Health Financing Mechanism in Nigeria,” the researchers recommended that social health insurance should be made mandatory in Nigeria for both public and private sectors. To achieve this, the research recommended that the revised National Health Insurance Scheme Act should be passed and signed into law.

The study concluded that as long as the existing ways of funding healthcare are still largely inefficient, the goal of ensuring access to health care for all Nigerians will not be achieved.

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The researchers maintained that the current funding mechanism, such as tax revenue, social health insurance schemes, donor partner funding lack equity and generally not sustainable.

To achieve better outcomes, the research pointed out the need to explore pool funding mechanism to be jointly managed by donors and government rather than the current practice where donor funding is not factored into the national budget.

Meanwhile, Obi said that “Even though we are going through recession, government would have to look for alternative ways of funding health care.  Reducing funding to health care will not be to our benefit.”

Obi said the researches were efforts by the academia to support advocacy for health care in Nigeria through evidence generation and providing the evidence to the civil society organizations and the public to improve the health of Nigerians.

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