By Zayamu Hassan
The Federal Government has been advised to recruit adequate man power and also make available to needed funding for the full implementation of the recently signed into law the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act.
This is in order to fast-track the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
This is one of the recommendations contained in a memo submitted to the Health Sector Reform Committee 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 Memo further advised the federal government to empower Port Health Services to take full responsibility of all surveillance at the ports and land borders.
It also advised the federal government to recruit Port Health Services permanent staff and well remunerated for a better surveillance and response. This, the memo stressed with provide effective and efficient surveillance across the country’s Port Health Services.
“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.
“In enhancing community acceptance and ownership towards vaccine uptake, the Federal Government should strengthen State Crisis Communication Team by making them a permanent structure beyond the COVID 19 pandemic,” the Memo said.
The AHBN in the Memo further advocated that: “The Ministers of Health, Education and Agriculture should strengthen coordination of human health, animal health and the environment response by coordinating 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.
“Health Security Trust Fund should be established to support the government, community philanthropists, private sector and development partners to invest in a sustained way for the epidemic preparedness and public health emergencies.”
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 Monkey Pox & 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.”