© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
What Nigerians should expect from govt after its commitment to Universal Health Coverage
ON Monday, the member states of the United Nations adopted a political declaration on universal health coverage (UHC) which sought after quality health for all population.
The 193 countries, including Nigeria, chose health for all at the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday.
“We, Heads of State and Government,…reaffirm that health is a precondition for and an outcome and indicator of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and strongly recommit to achieve universal health coverage by 2030,” introductory to the declaration read partly.
Universal health coverage means all individuals and communities are able to access the health services they need – from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care – without suffering financial hardship.
“Universal health coverage is a political choice: today world leaders have signalled their readiness to make that choice,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General while welcoming the action.
In this regard, the Nigerian government and others are committed to scale up its efforts and to implement actions which will make them achieve UHC by 2030.
The ICIR highlights health provisions Nigerians should be expecting from the government. The highlights are among what the government already committed itself to do on health on Monday.
Reduce out-of-pocket health expenditure, increase budgetary allocation
A stop in the rise of out-of-pocket expenditure is part of the commitments made on Monday.
Out-of-pocket health spending, according to WHO, is the direct payment made by individuals to health care at the time of service use. It affects the ability of households and individuals to meet basic needs and push many below the poverty line.
The Nigerian government is expected to reduce health-related expenses by implementing measures that will assure financial risk protection for all throughout the life course with emphasis on the poor as well as those who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations.
It also signed for better budgetary allocation for the health with adequate financing for primary health care.
Nigerians are supposed to enjoy quality, safe, effective, affordable and essential health services, medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and health technologies without financial barriers by 2030, according to the declaration.
The former minister of health, Isaac Adewole had said in 2017 that “25per cent of households spend more than 10 per cent of their household consumption on health a sign that more people were prone to poverty traps if they fall ill”.
He had added that 75 per cent of total health expenditures in Nigeria is estimated to be from individuals out-of-pocket.
Expand vaccine coverage, prevent maternal and child mortality
The Nigerian government has also pledged to expand vaccine coverage in order to prevent the spread of diseases such as measles, cholera, tuberculosis and meningitis.
It is obligated to improve routine immunisation and vaccination capacities. It also committed to addressing maternal and child mortality and diseases.
Nigerian women are thus expected to have ease in accessing quality health-care services before, during and after pregnancy, after childbirth. This is to minimise maternal, infant, neonatal and child mortality and morbidity.
According to a UNICEF and WHO report in July 2019, 20 million children missed out life-saving vaccine globally in 2018. Of this 20 million, Nigeria has the highest figure with three million children not vaccinated.
Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said in April 2019 that not less than 2,300 children under five years of age die daily in the country from preventable causes.
He also approximated that 145 Nigerian women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Prioritise Primary Health Care, build people-centred health systems
“Expand the delivery of and prioritize primary health care as a cornerstone of a sustainable people-centred, community-based and integrated health systems,” a part read.
The Nigerian government has also chosen to strengthen the referral system between primary and other levels of care which are secondary and tertiary health care.
It also signed up for people-centred health systems where people could access safe and quality health services and medical products that are delivered in a timely, equitable, efficient and integrated manner.
The provision will be “built on a foundation of strong primary health care and coherent national policies and strategies for quality and safe health services.
So with the Nigerian government’s commitment to the universal health coverage, good health should be a right in the country by 2030 and not a privilege.