As Nigeria continues to grapple with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging health threats, a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Africa has issued a call to President Bola Tinubu, urging him to allocate dedicated funds towards health security in the country.
This call was made on Wednesday in Abuja during the Africa Regional Advocacy Summit for NGOs and Media. The three-day event, organised by the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), was themed “Capacity Building, Peer Learning and Exchange on Accountability for Domestic Resource Mobilisation for Health Security and Systems in Africa”. Participants from Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe were present.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, the chair of the Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC), Mrs. Chika Offor stressed the critical importance of a robust healthcare system and preparedness for future health emergencies. She underscored the plea for President Tinubu to prioritise allocating resources specifically aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s health security infrastructure.
Offor elaborated on the reasons driving the CSOs’ call and highlighted the potential positive impact of such funding on the nation’s overall health security.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the vulnerabilities of Nigeria’s healthcare system and underscored the need for improved preparedness. One of the main motivations behind this plea is the recognition that health security is vital for the nation’s well-being and stability”.
“With the potential for future pandemics and health emergencies, it is imperative that Nigeria establishes a resilient healthcare system. This includes adequate funding for essential infrastructure, medical supplies and well-trained healthcare personnel,” she explained.
The co-convener of the Joint Learning Agenda for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria and executive director of the Gem Hub Initiative, Mrs. Oyeyemi Pitan added that by allocating dedicated funds for health security, the country can enhance its ability to detect, prevent and respond to public health threats.
“This entails investing in surveillance systems, laboratory facilities, and rapid response teams. Furthermore, these funds can be directed towards strengthening healthcare facilities, enhancing access to quality healthcare services and fostering research and development in the field of public health,” Pitan stated.
She stressed the importance of proactive measures in constructing a robust health security system.
“This proactive approach includes investing in public health education and awareness campaigns, as well as fostering research and innovation in the healthcare sector. Through prioritising funding for health security, Nigeria can effectively address emerging health threats and mitigate their impact on the population,” she emphasised.
Pitan also highlighted the potential economic benefits of investing in health security.
“A robust healthcare system not only safeguards the health of the population but also contributes to economic stability and growth. By preventing and efficiently responding to health emergencies, Nigeria can minimise the economic disruptions caused by outbreaks and ensure the uninterrupted provision of essential services,” she pointed out.
Representing the media, public health correspondent Ms. Racheal Abujah emphasised that dedicating funds to health security would empower the country to strengthen its healthcare system, enhance preparedness for future health emergencies and safeguard the well-being of its population.
Abujah emphasised that the investment in health security would not only protect lives but also contribute to the overall stability and prosperity of the nation.
Prior to this, a health economist and monitoring and evaluation specialist from AHBN, Mrs. Maimuma Abdullahi outlined the summit’s objectives, including enhancing delegates’ capacity in budget analysis, advocacy, accountability and transparency concerning health security. Additionally, the summit aimed to facilitate peer learning and exchange among country delegates on accountability for domestic resource mobilisation in the context of health security and systems in Africa, while also revising and adopting country work plans based on project sub-grants’ agreements.