The Executive Director of Connected Advocacy for Empowerment and Youth Development Initiative, Prince Israel Orekha, has called on the Nigerian government to keep to its promise of making quality healthcare accessible and affordable to citizens.
Orekha made the call while delivering a paper in a one-day summit to mark the 2019 Nigerian Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day. He mentioned that on September 23, leaders from all United Nations members states, including Nigeria, unanimously committed themselves to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
“193 nations upheld health as a human right and pledged that all people everywhere get the quality healthcare services they need without facing financial hardship,” Orekha stated.
“A viable and people (grassroots) oriented Primary Healthcare Centers (PHC) is key to achieving UHC. In Nigeria, there has been a concerted effort, but the PHC system is dogged by multiple challenges. This is largely because billions of naira reportedly spent over the decades on health facilities by governments at different levels were mismanaged. While thousands of PHCs are lying waste, the government has continued to build more across the country. We must have plans for sustaining and equipping the old ones,” he said.
“We are calling on the Nigerian government at all levels to translate these commitments made at the UN into real change for the people. Universal Health Coverage is a nation’s promise to its citizens, and it is time that leaders kept their words,” Orekha said.
Speaking, the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Patrick Okundia, said the health sector in Edo State is a priority to Governor Obaseki.
“The State Governor has saddled himself with the responsibility of revamping the various PHCs in the State. 20 pilot centres have been renovated and solar power installed to provide electricity. The state has also come up with e-clinic in a bid to expanding health coverage among the people.
“There is a far longer way to go considering the emergence of varied epidemics that afflicts the people. However, the Edo State Government is fully committed to achieving the UHC in the State by 2030,” Dr Okundia stated.
Delivering a keynote address, Mr Clement Anaweokhai of the International Center for Health Intensive Research Development, said the government of Edo State should make health insurance scheme compulsory for the citizens.
“The few countries that have made the UHC, made health insurance scheme compulsory, thereby changing the health landscape of the countries,” he said.
“A policy that will make everybody pay for the insurance scheme, though the government could subsidize it, should be put in place. But the government must put something on the ground that will be easily accessed without stratification,” he said.
On his part, Edo State Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Prof Henry A Okeri, called on the Nigerian government to reduce the tariffs imposed on the importation of materials used for the production of drugs in the country. He said this is one of the reasons why most drugs are expensive, thereby making them unaffordable. He also submitted that the health budget for Nigeria is grossly inadequate and the human resource not covered.