…Condemn Nigeria’s Poor Universal Health Coverage Status
By Chika Onyesi
Decades after independence, Nigeria’s health care system has continued to struggle under the weight of poor health care financing.
The one per cent consolidated revenue for Basic Healthcare Provision as provided by the National Health Act is still a dream.
Unlike other climes where access to healthcare is guaranteed through medical insurance, out of pocket health expenditure remains a norm in Nigeria.
According to research, about 73 percent of Nigerians still pay for medical services from their pockets while fewer than seven million others are covered by the national health insurance scheme.
This scenario is the plight ofmillions of poor Nigerians who are not able to afford the high cost of private health care.
The solution to this persistent challenge according to experts is for Nigeria to prioritize health financing by implementing the principles of Universal Health Coverage.
The urgency of this need is why the West African Academy of Public Health (WAAPH) wants government to ensure at least 60 percent coverage of health insurance in Nigeria in the next five years.
Public health physician and President of the WAAPH, Dr. Francis Ohanyido who made the call, said Nigeria is way behind in efforts to attain Universal Health Coverage.
He has tasked government to ensure that health insurance works in Nigeria both at the informal and formal sectors.
‘‘The current level of health insurance in Nigeria is totally unacceptable to us’’
‘‘Universal Health Coverage is an opportunity for poor Nigerians to access health with minimal resources, government must provide increased insurance coverage for everyone, whether mandatory or otherwise to ensure that the poor are covered’’
Dr. Ohanyido’s call comes amid activities marking the 2018 International Universal Health Coverage Day. But he says calling on government is not all that is required to achieve universal health coverage.
He wants Nigerians to also demand improved health care services from politicians as the country goes into the elections.
To help facilitate this, the West African Academy of Public Health is raising a group of young advocates to demand improved health care through its health literacy and leadership course.
Dr. Ohanyido in a training session with young advocates
The training is also part of activities to mark the International Universal Health Coverage Day.
The health literacy training is expected to raise a new crop of health advocates that will demand accountability from government on health care matters.
The Director, Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Chika Offor said the training of the youths is to ensure they are prepared to take over from the older generation and equipped with adequate knowledge to advocate for universal health coverage.
‘‘There is hope for Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage if the youths take their turn and continue to step towards achieving it’’
‘‘If Universal health coverage is achieved, it will go a long way in reducing incidents of maternal and child mortality and also reduce out of pocket expenditure for health’’
The young advocates were trained on health risk communication and evidence based advocacy for Universal health Coverage as well as legislative interface and engagement.