The Federal Government has launched Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) also known as HUWE, in Abia State.
Speaking at the ceremony, held recently at Apumiri Ubakala Primary Health Centre, Umuahia South Local Government Area, in Abia State, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said that rolling out the programme was the climax of all Government's efforts geared towards improving access to quality and affordable healthcare to all Nigerians.
Prof.Adewole noted that Abia State was entitled to benefit basic health care services worth N1.08 billion in the next nine months.
He informed that ‘’ the amount is equivalent to the medical bills of 635,000 women with normal deliveries, 1.8 million under 5-childhood illnesses or over 1.3 million cases of malaria; in addition to 332 public-sector facilities that would become truly functional as a result of the programme’’
He further said that ‘’the fund will provide direct response to issues of inequality in access to quality primary healthcare services, and also eliminate out-of-the- pocket expenses for primary health care services.’’
The Minister added that ‘“Surprisingly, 70 percent of total healthcare expenditure in Nigeria is borne out of the pocket. This is far higher than the globally-acceptable rate of 30-40 percent, and remains a barrier to accessing health care.’’
He stressed that ‘’the Federal government is committed to reversing the ugly situation and promoting shared prosperity especially in medical services.”
He also assured that the launch of the programme in Abia State would open the space for more people to benefit from basic healthcare services being delivered at the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs).
He explained that the programme would be financially sustained through a certain percentage of the consolidated revenue fund of the federation as stipulated in the National Health Act, 2014. “Our target is one primary healthcare centre, per ward, as identified by States, based on defined criteria with operational budgets to enable the facilities improve service delivery,” he added.
Prof. Adewole informed that Government had disbursed the sum of N12 billion to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) accounts; stressing that, the NHIS would in turn send the resources to the accounts of the 23 States and FCT who had indicated interest in the program.
In his address, the Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu , said that ‘’Government has promised to reimburse accredited private facilities that delivered specified services which include: ante-natal care, childbirth including Caesarean sections, family planning, treatment of childhood under-five illnesses, malaria treatment for all and screening for non-communicable diseases."
In his welcome address , the Commissioner of Health, Abia State, Dr. John Ahukannah, said that ‘’BHCPF is structured in a way that the fund, which is direct facility funding mechanism, will address issues of maintenance of facility and equipment, provision of drugs and consumables and Capacity building.'
He also said that ‘’the programme targets the vulnerable groups ,women and children and the scheme will reduce out of pockets expenses in accessing healthcare’’
In his Goodwill Message, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who was represented by South East Zonal Director, Dr. Eric Nwaze, said that ’"the Primary Healthcare Facilities are integral part of the Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system and are usually the first point of call for provision of essential medical services for majority of Nigerians.’’
There are over 30,000 public PHCs spread across the States and 744 Local Government Areas of the federation, Dr. Shuaib added.