By Chika Onyesi
Health journalists in Nigeria have charged the federal government to design effective strategies to ensure that many more Nigerians are covered by the national health insurance
The call follows the ever-increasing incidents of maternal and child mortality as recorded in primary and tertiary health institutions across the country.
The group under the auspices of the Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHEJ) said government must scale up policy thrusts to encourage Universal Health Coverage and reduce the culture of out-of-pocket expenditure for health services.
The association has also tasked government to ensure more investment is made in the health sector to reduce inefficiencies in the system and raise the accountability bar.
The association made the call during its third annual national conference held in Abuja with the theme: “Nigeria’s increasing population—Any hope to achieving UHC and SDG 3?”
President of the association Hassan Zagi said the annual health event is a brainchild of Nigerian health journalists in efforts to stimulate discussions and proffer suggestions for the growth of the health sector.
‘‘As journalists covering the health sector, we are in a better position to tell the stories and narrate how our people in rural community die every second because of poor access to quality healthcare and the heavy burden of out of pocket payment of health bills.’’
While reminding government, agencies and NGO’s to partner with health communicators to provide the right health information for Nigerians, Mr Zaggi said the association is determined to contribute its quota to making the health sector work
The minister of health Dr Osagie Ehanire says government is committed to achieving the sustainable development goal 3, which recommends reduction in global maternal mortality rates by 2030, through the implementation of the basic health care provision fund.
‘‘Despite the challenges in the Nigerian health sector, the federal govt is determined to meet all its targets and ensure quality health for all Nigerians through the implantation of all health policies and coverage of all citizens’’.
The Chairman House of Representatives committee on health Dr Sanunu Tanko urged journalist to hold govt accountable for the implementation of its policies.
The major challenge in achieving universal health coverage in Nigeria is the health insurance scheme, only 5% of the population are covered through the NHIS. This is why the National assembly had passed a resolution to investigate the non- performance of the NHIS’’ he said