UHC: NASS Convene Legislative Summit
- Written by Oluwafemi Olowookere
As part of efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria, the leadership of the National Assembly has organized a two -day Legislative Network Summit and in attendance were Speakers of House of Assembly drawn from the 36 states of the Federation to discuss healthcare financing.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki said that the overall objective of the Summit was to launch the National Legislative Network of parliament for improved health financing towards achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.
Other objectives of the summit according to the President of the Senate included acquainting participants with existing legislative and policy frameworks towards improving healthcare financing in Nigeria.
Senator Saraki said that the participants would initiate process of sustained Universal Health Coverage, related peer learning among state lawmakers and their federal counterparts, adding that the participants would also outline road-map of specific action that the lawmakers will undertake to successfully operationalize the network.
Speaking on the National Health Act, Dr. Saraki expressed the Senate willingness and determination to approve one per cent (1%)of 2018 consolidated budget to health sector as it is enshrined in National Health Act.
He stressed that the provision of adequate funding in the health sector would pave way for free healthcare services which is the bedrock for achieving Universal Health Coverage.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole posited that the provision of healthcare services was not the sole responsibility of the Federal Government.
He said: “We want to change people’s perception about health, health is not an exclusive responsibility of federal government, it is a national responsibility, when there is fever or cough in any part of this country, it is not the Federal Ministry of Health that would be responsible, the states must take responsibility, we need to work together to get things done”. He maintained.
Prof. Adewole further explained that health is a critical factor in the socio-economic development of a country pointing out that the benefits of investing in the health sector is greater than investing in any other sector.
“Without health you cannot go to farm, you cannot go to school, you cannot go to office, so health is critical, this is the most important message I have here today” Adewole added.
Earlier in his welcome address , the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Olanrewaju Tejuoso said that Universal Health Coverage Agenda requires concerted efforts at the both state and federal government levels.
However, Dr. Tejuoso said the Senate is presently reviewing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.
“To fast tract Nigeria’s UHC aspiration, the Senate is currently undertaking the major revision of the NHIS Act. We assure every Nigerian of affordable and quality healthcare by the time we finish the revision of the Act”, he said.