Dr Edu leads key stakeholders to brainstorm on ways to improve Nigeria’s health sector

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…As SGF declares open Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum meeting

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha has reiterated the need for drastic reform in the Nigeria’s health sector using the window of opportunity which COVID-19 has brought that have made Government give special attention to the health sector, calling on the Federal Ministry of Health and states to do more in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari administration to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

He made this call in Abuja on Thursday as he declared open the meeting of Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum where key stakeholders in the health sector met to discuss with development partners ways to improve the health system in the country.

The SGF stated in his opening speech that “the pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to x-ray the inefficiencies in our health sector and even inefficiencies in the economy.

“The weaknesses in our health system became more glaring as we see how even more established health systems in Europe and America buckled under the pressure of the pandemic.”

He disclosed that the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 has allowed him to meet with different players and stakeholders of the health system ranging from interacting with States, development partners, and key private sectors players to dig deeper, interrogate, and x-ray the system better.

“At the Federal level, it has provided us the unique opportunity to review the healthcare system which is in dire need of reforms and funding. We need all Partners to get more committed to supporting Nigeria at the Federal and state levels; it’s not yet time for fatigue! The SGF appealed to Doctors to call off the strike in the interest of Nigerians.

Minister of State For Health, Senator Oloruninmbe Mamora, in his opening remarks harped on the benefits of strengthening the healthcare system at the sub-national level as the fastest way of achieving universal health coverage. He said this will be fully actualized when development partners streamline their interventions to the health needs of various states.

According to him, “it is important to appeal to all sub-national entities to recognize the serious nature of this situation and strategize with the federal government to win the war. We do not have a different response; we have one national response.

“It is expected that every sub-national government should fit into this national response so that we can collectively deploy our resources, strategies, and personnel to directly and decisively achieve universal health coverage.”

In her opening remarks, Cross River State Commissioner For Health and Chairman of Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum, Dr. Betta Edu called on the Federal Government, development partners, and key players of the health sector from the private sector to do things differently to see better results.

“There is a need to review Governance structure, reduce fragmentation in the health sector, ensure sustainable health care financing through mandatory health insurance scheme for all Nigerians, specifically focusing on the development of critical infrastructure in the states, responding to man power needs which will make the health sector at the state level more resilient and functional.”

Dr. Edu stated that one striking issue that the health commissioners have to identify is the fact that they have a lot of fragmentation from the national down to a sub-national level which indirectly affects the system because things are being poorly coordinated, duplicated with a lot of wastage and leakages in the implementation of policies and programmes.

She said there was a need to marry various interests at the same time decentralize health care delivery from the federal to the state level.

She commended the exceptional coordination of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in managing the Pandemic in Nigeria, and contributions from private sector players and development partners while calling for more support for states.

Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria praised the country for the COVID-19 responses stating that the US Government is committed to supporting the Nigerian health sector both at national and state as they have always done especially in HIV, TB, Malaria, MNCH amongst others.

The meeting had in attendance representatives of Unicef, World Bank, NGF, ARC, EU, UN, BMGF, Global Fund, GAC, PMGN, Dangote Foundation, Sterling Bank, Zipline, Drug Stoc, and other development partners and private sector participants at the opening session of the two days interactive gathering.