By Zayamu Hassan
The United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) has assured the Nigerian Government of its continued commitment to support in building a well-functioning and shock resilient primary health care system with full access to essential services, including reproductive and maternal health services and family planning.
Resident Representative of UNFPA in Nigeria, MS. Ulla Mueller gave the assurance while speaking at the National Primary Healthcare Summit held in Abuja.
She said: “We will continue to support Nigeria in her endeavors to deliver the Nigerian Development Plan through our support to partners such as NPHCDA in achieving their 10-year vision.
“We remain committed to reach the most vulnerable, to deliver a world where every child birth is safe, every pregnancy is wanted and every young person reaches his or her full potential,” she stressed.
Ms Mueller noted that for the National Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) to achieve its 10-year plan of reimaging Nigeria’s primary health system, mandatory health insurance was key.
According to her: “Achieving sustainable financing for family planning, which will contribute to the reduction in maternal deaths, cannot be fully realized without compulsory health insurance.
“In line with this, as a minimum, family planning services, which covers comprehensive counselling, short-acting and long-acting reversible methods, must be included in primary care.”
She further noted that, a robust human resource for health will help to accelerate the achievement of the 10-year plan and equity in access to health services including Sexual and Reproductive Health Services.
The UNFPA Representative noted that: “Social Behavioral Change Communication and building social cohesion, are also key to delivering the plan. We need to have a comprehensive community focused communication strategy, which will build trust and instill confidence in people and increase uptake of primary health care services.
“We must work with the private sector, philanthropists and markets to inspire and motivate them to increase their participation and contributions through technology transfers, capacity building, commodities and pharmaceutical productions or through their Corporate Social Responsibilities programmes.”
Ms Mueller called for synergy between the government, the development partners, civil society and private sector so that they can work with NPHCDA and support the development of financing models for PHC revitalization.
“Academia and professional and regulatory bodies will among other things support Human Resources for Health accreditation and training,” she said.
She further called on the federal and states governments to prioritize the Primary Health Care Universal Health Coverage agenda, work with development partners and create enabling policy environment and improve budgetary allocations, provide adequate human resources and infrastructure for implementation.
“We must be strategic, ambitious and transformative. We must move from funding which is always time limited, to financing for long time financial sustainability.
“To achieve Universal Health Coverage targets, public funding for PHC must be expand, while reliance on out-of-pocket expenditure must decline,” the UNFPA Chief, said.