Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said Nigeria is among the world’s leading countries in the provision of Universal Health Care (UCH) coverage programme implementation.
He explained that the UHC is a health-related target under the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 2015. It underscores its importance and visibility as a major milestone in measuring any country’s human capital development.
Ehanire spoke yesterday in Abuja at the conference on Universal Health Coverage towards reducing maternal mortality, organised by the development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC) in collaboration with the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale ([email protected]).
Represented by the Director of Family Health in the ministry, Dr. Adebimpe Adebisi, the minister said: “This ensures that people do not suffer financial hardship in paying for these services as and when required.
“The Universal Health Coverage programme of this current administration is aimed at providing access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative quality health services in line with the global health agenda.
“Our commitment to achieve UHC is anchored on a number of principal convictions, such as: Health is a human right and investment in health pays human and economic dividends; health outcomes are a good measure of economic growth and equality, particularly the health of women, girls and the poor; it is a major strategy for addressing high maternal and infant mobility and mortality ratios.
“There is a good understanding of the huge potential of family planning to contribute to at least 30 per cent and 25 per cent reduction in maternal and child mortality ratios respectively. Realising this, Nigeria had in the not too distant past, commenced a re-positioning of the family planning programme and the service delivery points at both national and sub-national levels.”
He added: “Our key aim of the repositioning effort is to make the full range of family planning information, services and commodities accessible, particularly to underserved populations such as youths, poor and people living in hard to reach areas.
“Appropriate steps are being taken to develop relevant policies and strengthen systems and processes to enhance a scale up of uptake of quality and affordable family planning services across the country.
“The Federal Government is collaborating with key stakeholders on the implementation on a number of interventions, including policy on free family planning information, services and supply of commodities at all public sector service delivery points and collaborating private health facilities nationwide; collaboration with national, regional and international stakeholders, including the FP2020 secretariat, multi-sectoral and bilateral agencies to scale up investments in the country’s family planning programme; establishment of the basket fund for the transparent management of funds mobilized from the federal government through the government’s counterpart contribution and development partners such as the UNFPA, DFID, USAID to facilitate the procurement of contraceptive commodities with the United Nations Population Fund as the procurement agent.
“At the 2017 London Family Planning Summit, Nigeria rebased its target modern contraceptive prevalence to 27 per cent and increased the annual government counterpart contribution commitment from $3 million to $4 million from 2017 to 2020.
“In keeping with this commitment, the Federal Government has mobilised resources outside its appropriation in the past two years to ensure payment, and this year is not going to be an exemption.
“The development of the Nigerian Family Planning blueprint recently revised in which appropriate interventions to drive a holistic scale-up process to achieve the target modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 27 per cent have been articulated.”
The Chairman of Senate Committee on Health, Yahaya Oloriegbe, explained that the National Assembly was working hard, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and other key stakeholders in the Health sector, to come up with a health bank for health financing.
“It is a vision by us in the health committee as led by the chairman and other partners in the Health sector and the ministry to look at way of making funds available for the health sector.”
“So that fantastic hospitals that that are not publicly owned can start springing up, and our people will stop, going to India for medical treatment that is readily available here if not for inadequate facilities.”
The President of Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) in his welcome address said that, “The CIA fact sheet, the UNICEF as at 2015, claims that the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria is 814 per 100,000. A month ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with data backed by Unicef, UNFPA, that the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria is 914 per 100,000.
“You find out that when they say millennium development goals and those ones ended in 2015, Nigeria was one of the countries that fell short of achieving it. And then, we have the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are all geared towards achieving the SDGs.
“But the problem really is at the rate at which our indices are improving, I shudder to think that I cannot see the magic by which in 2030 we have a maternal mortality ratio of less than 70 per 100,000.
“The Nigerian nation on its own decided that they wanted to increase contraceptive prevalence rate to 27 per cent; by so doing, it will reduce maternal mortality rate by as much as 30%. But then we thought this might sound not available by 2020, so we said let us just make it 27 per cent.
“If maternal mortality is a tragedy, perhaps, another tragedy that stares us in the face are the socio-demographic implications of our population explosion. Our fertility rate is 5.5%, incidentally our population growth rate is about 3.18% increase. If you compare the fact that our GDP is only 1.8%, you will know that we are growing by far faster than the resources that are available to us; the end result is poverty.
“We are told that we need about $23 million for contraceptive commodities. Our budget was slashed to about $800,000. The development partners are likely going to provide about $18 million. So, you know that there is a funding gap which will have implications on our population growth.
“We are trying to let women know the virtues of family planning, education, and the options that are available. In fact, breast feeding is a form of family planning; if you breastfeed adequately, you also can prevent unwanted pregnancy. The bottom-line is to increase awareness so that women themselves know that there is advantage in planning their family.”