By Asma’u Ahmad
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Thursday said it was committed to promoting resilient health system that assured access to basic healthcare services in a sustainable manner in the country.
Director-General of NGF Secretariat, Mr Asishana Okauru, announced the commitment at the opening of a two-day workshop on “Implementation of the Primary Healthcare under One Roof Policy (PHCUORP)” in Abuja.
Mr Okauru said that the workshop was organized to strengthen primary healthcare system across the country, adding that health was one of the priority areas for the forum.
He identified inadequate funding, low insurance coverage, absence of credible data and insufficient investment by government as some of the factors responsible for poor health indices in the country.
The director-general said that the challenges still persisted in spite of the 2001 Abuja Declaration, where all African member-states pledged at least 15 per cent of their annual budget to improving the health sector.
He said that while Nigeria accounted for 10 per cent of world mortality rate, the indices for deaths and impaired quality of life caused by malaria, respiratory track infections, tuberculosis and HIV were more appalling.
“Primary healthcare system is the anchor for achieving universal health coverage. This ought to be the first point of call for health care needs but this has ceased to be so for many Nigerians. The Primary Healthcare under One Roof policy is designed to reverse this trend,” he said.
Okauru said that the NGF had leveraged and undertook implementation of a number of initiatives in that regard.
Okauru explained that the workshop was to identity the current status and challenges being experienced by the states in the implementation of the policy.
He added that in the coming weeks, the NGF Secretariat would engage states for further discussions on the priority areas highlighted at the workshop.
The Executive Secretary of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said that primary healthcare remained the foundation for making sustainable change to the poor health indicators in the country.
“Nigeria’s poor health outcomes in critical areas was best reflected by that fact that approximately 3,000 women and under-five children die daily in the country. This implies that each state represented here, approximately 2, 400 women and children die every month from causes which are preventable,” Dr Shuaib said.
He urged all executive secretaries of state PHC Agencies/Boards to work toward the reduction in deaths of pregnant women and children in their states.
Dr Shuaib said that NPHCDA under his leadership was making effort to reposition the NPHCDA as a responsible, transparent, corrupt-free and high performing organisation.