As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has called on Nigerians to take advantage of the robust National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) law, which makes it mandatory for everyone to subscribe to a health insurance package, in order to achieve a resilient health system in the country.
Speaking at a Press briefing organized by the Ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Minister spoke through the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Mahmuda Mamman, who was also represented by the Head of, the Health Systems Division, Mr. Okwidili Okechukwu, explained that such subscription will minimize the number of people spending out-of-pocket expenses for health in the country.
In the words of the Minister “On this day, I wish to again draw the attention of Nigerians to the NHIA law that makes it mandatory for everyone to subscribe to a health insurance package.
“Cooperate organizations, organized private sector, and small business owners should align with this law to enroll in any of the Health Insurance schemes.
“This will reduce the proportion of persons spending Out-Of-Pocket for health. The National Health Accounts (NHA) Report for 2020 shows that despite the 2% increase in General Health Expenditure as a percentage of Government Expenditure from 6.2% in 2019 to 8.2% in 2020, household Out-of-Pocket expenditure still rose from 71.5% in 2019 to 72.8% in 2020, which is above the 40% target,” he said.
The Minister also said that the 2022 UHC day theme: “Build the world we want: A healthy future for all,” calls on all individuals to play their part in the goal to achieve a resilient health system, that is able to provide quality services without impoverishing anyone pointing to the fact that Citizens have the responsibility to hold their leaders accountable and demand better services from the health facilities across all tiers Governments, while the private sector is encouraged to partner Government more.
On the efforts of the Government towards the attainment of UHC, Ehanire explained that the Federal Government has consistently appropriated at least 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Account for the delivery of health services to Nigerians, adding that, as of October 2022, 101 billion nairas (about 83 percent of total funds to be released this year) has been disbursed for service delivery across over 7, 600 primary health care facilities across the country.
He also revealed that the funds flow through the National Primary Healthcare Development Authority (NPHCDA), National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), and the Emergency services gateway of the BHCPF.
Speaking further, Dr. Ehanire informed that the goal of the intervention was to continue to strengthen the health system to be resilient to shocks from epidemics, pandemics, and health crises adding that Government has strengthened its Agencies to that effect.
“The NCDC has led the rapid expansion of our molecular laboratory capacity, from about 3 laboratories at the onset of COVID-19 to at least one molecular lab per State & FCT.
“The NPHCDA has been at the front of expanding access to life-saving vaccines and other commodities.
“The National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently achieved maturity level 3 in its regulatory ranking. This put it on the path to regulate vaccine production in Nigeria and the African continent,” he said.
While assuring of Federal Government’s commitment to reducing out-of-pocket expenditure, improving the health systems efficiency, and increasing funding, Ehanire also implore State Governments to prioritize health and adequately fund the basic healthcare provision fund.
On their part, the WHO Officer in Charge, Mie Okomune said Universal Health Coverage Day which is 12 December, is an official United Nations-designated day that marks the anniversary of the unanimous endorsement of UHC in 2012 as an essential priority for international development.
She also explained that it is the annual rallying point for advocates to raise their voices and share the stories of millions of people still waiting for health, call on leaders to make starter investments in health, and remind the world about the leaders to make starter investments in health and remind the world about the imperative of UHC.
While commending Nigeria for the steps taken towards ensuring reduced catastrophic out-of-pocket expenditure by the Nigerian people, particularly through the recently enacted NHIA Act and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, Okomune calls on Nigeria and other countries to invest, integrate and get innovative in their national health plans, by ensuring public budgetary resources remain at the core of financing for UHC as well as using a PHC approach.
She also assured of WHO’s renewed commitment to walking with Nigeria towards the reorientation of the country's health systems towards primary health care, as the foundation of Universal Health Coverage.
Head (Media & Public Relations Unit)