By Asmau Ahmad
The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) has advised the Federal Government of NIgeria to establish Health Security Trust Fund in order to support governments at all levels, community philanthropists, private sector and development partners to invest in a sustained way for epidemic preparedness and public health emergencies.
This is one of the recommendations contained in a memo submitted to the Health Sector Reform Committee under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, by the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN).
The memo was signed by the Coordinator and Founder, Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Dr Aminu Magashi Garba.
It would be recalled that in January 2022, the Federal Government inaugurated the Health Sector Reform Committee with the mandate to commence the development and implementation of a wide-ranging Health Sector Reform Programme for the country.
The Health Sector Reform Committee was also saddled with the crucial role of reviewing various reports in the health sector in order to steer the direction of the needed reforms.
The memo also advised for the strengthening of coordination of human health, animal health and the environment response by the Ministers of Health, Education and Agriculture, calling on them to also coordinate regular meetings and encouraging strong collaborations among the line ministries.
“The Multi-Sectoral and multi-disciplinary strategy calls for adequate coordination and collaboration among all Ministries and Agencies for effective leadership to ensure one health approach in the country,” the memo further said.
The memo also advocated for the availability of adequate manpower and funding for the implementation of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act 2022, which will provide huge opportunity towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), in Nigeria.
“For effective and efficient surveillance across the country’s Port Health Services, the Federal Government should not engage ad-hoc staff to support various areas of response rather it should recruit Port Health Services permanent staff well remunerated for a better surveillance and response.
“The Port Health Services should be empowered to take full responsibility of all surveillance at the ports and land borders.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), should be supported to strengthen the coordination of the 36 states of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory’s Primary Health Care Agencies for a unified primary health care response to public health emergencies,” the Memo submitted by the AHBN also recommended.
While enumerating other observed challenges for implementation, the AHBH in the Memo said: “Both the One Health Strategic Plan and the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) have either expired or about to expire with less than 50 percent implementation because of inadequate funding and weakness in multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral collaboration and coordination;
“Overall, the COVID 19 response and health security are largely funded by international and regional donor partners. Such as, World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank and other Bi-Literal Organizations. Thus, threatening financial sustainability and health security response.
“With the threats of Marburg Virus Disease in Africa, WHO Public Health Emergency declaration on Monkeypox and the remaining journey to tame COVID-19, Nigeria does not seem to be fully prepared for the next pandemic due to poor border and port surveillance and control being managed by ad-hoc staff that are poorly paid.
“The COVID 19 and Health Security response and in preparation for the next pandemic, the frontline health workers and the general populace require adequate health insurance coverage to enable mitigation of potential occupational hazard and spread of infections.”