By Zayamu Hassan
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said that private sector involvement in the primary health care sector will contribute in resolving the many challenges bedeviling the sector.
Speaking while declaring open the Primary Health Care Summit 2022 with the theme: ‘Re-imagining PHC; in Abuja, Thursday, the Vice President advocated for compulsory health insurance as the only way to pool resources to fund the health sector as government budget alone cannot sufficiently fund the sector.
He further called for synergy between the federal, state, local governments and the private sector in the provision of primary health care services in the country.
According to him, because of the preventive focus of the primary health care sector, any investment in it is a wise investment for the social and economic well-being of the society.
The Vice President said: “Despite all, it is clear that a lot more need to be done. For us to achieve an emerging PHC, we have to address out of pocket expenses to access healthcare and I think we clearly need compulsory health insurance scheme where premiums for certain categories of vulnerable people are paid.
“Our target is the 100 per cent coverage of the poor and vulnerable in a short to medium term.
“There is no way that health care funding can be paid by the government budget alone, this is impossible. The size of the federal government budget itself is overstretched. We definitely cannot afford to fund health by just budgets and therefore healthcare insurance is an important pool of resources to fund healthcare on a scale that is required for the country to move forward.
“The second thing is to address the controversy occasioned by the concurrent constitution status of the primary health care. There is a great need for synergy to prevent a situation where the federal, state and local governments and private persons duplicate primary health care facilities and there is no real planning around what should be where.
“The third is encouraging and supporting serious private sector interventions,” he said.
The role of the private sector in the establishment of a chain of primary healthcare centres across Nigeria in all the 774 local government areas and applying market-based reforms to provide low-cost health services to the people and descent staff is an important initiative and it will be succor to the private sector efficiency into the primary healthcare driven by market ideas.
Speaking, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said that strengthening the country PHCs will ensure better population health and reduce the workload on secondary and tertiary healthcare levels and also the catastrophic out-of-pocket patient spending on health.
While lamenting that the PHC level has been neglected, with huge consequent negative impact on human capital development, the Minister, however, said: “But we also have opportunities to build back better, with the goodwill and funds that have flowed into the system since then.
“It is in that light that we wish to rebuild our system by correcting the imbalance among the levels of care, beginning with this PHC summit. The Federal Ministry of Health wishes to build on gains of the past and partner with all sectors to achieve national and global targets.”
Ehanire, however, insisted that the fiscal space for health has to be increased at PHC level and that more resources needed to be mobilized by stakeholders and partners to reestablish the PHC system as a versatile platform to deliver a very wide range of valuable services.