By Asma’u Ahmad
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says it has committed two million dollars to the Nigerian Basic Health Care Provision Funds to fast-track implementation by the government toward the realisation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Deputy Nigerian Country Officer of the foundation, Dr Paulin Basinga disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja during a visit by officials of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
The NIPSS paid a study tour on the foundation and Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC) which is under the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH ) @scale project.
Basinga described the money that was donated by the foundation as a strategy that would allow money to flow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) account down to primary health care facilities.
He explained that the 2014 National Health Act stipulates that one per cent of the nation’s consolidated revenue should be channelled toward funding basic healthcare provision fund that would guarantee access to health by all.
However, he lamented that till date the policy has not been implemented.
He further noted that the organisation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government to enable it meet its commitment of buying vaccines among other consumables that would drive UHC.
Basinga identified funding as a major gap in the realisation of UHC.
He said there was need to build a stronger PHC system in the country to ensure preventive and curative measures of diseases at the community levels.
Basinga flayed the present funding of healthcare system in the country by channelling more resources to the tertiary and secondary health levels.
He urged the government to make strategic legislation to funding UHC.
“Through this legislation, funding priority will be geared toward revitalisation of primary healthcare system thereby reducing the nation’s disease burden and death rate.
“If the nation has strong primary healthcare system the health needs of 90 per cent of Nigerians will be addressed.
“We are excited in this journey toward UHC and we have been stirring the government to build a stronger PHC system through improved funding among others so that the UHC can be a reality,’’ he said
Basinga identified the six building blocks of UHC as financing, facilities, human resources, commodities, religious and community leaders as well as data.
He emphasised that in order to drive UHC there was need for facilities to be situated in places where they can easily be accessed by all the pregnant women and children, among others, without hitches.
According to him, commodity must be readily available at all times like the test kits and treatment for malaria and typhoid, among other diseases.
He further noted that the capacity of health workers at the health facilities must be built to adequately meet the health needs of the populace.
He however called for collaborative efforts by philanthropists, civil society organisations, individuals and policy makers to ensure realisation of UHC to guaranty accessible, affordable and quality healthcare services for all irrespective of status.
AVM Dahiru Sanda, the Leader of NIPSS delegation, said their tour of the organisations was for the participants to be abreast with the relevance of the organisations in to funding of UHC delivery in the country.
Sanda identified the theme for their study tour as “Funding UHC delivery in Nigeria.”
“These organisations are key funders of UHC delivery and our focus is on framework and challenges they have in funding healthcare delivery in the country,’’ Sanda said.