The World Health Organisation (WHO) Nigeria has called on the Nigerian government to allocate more public expenditure towards healthcare, aiming to achieve a benchmark investment of $6 per capita.
The country representative of Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi made this plea on Wednesday in Abuja during a strategic legislative health retreat. He emphasised the crucial role of legislators in appropriating funds, passing bills and ensuring their effective implementation.
Kazadi stressed the importance of leveraging their unique functions to improve health outcomes and alleviate poverty. He urged legislators to utilise their positions to establish health as a fundamental right for all Nigerians, reinforcing government responsibility and mutual accountability. Additionally, he encouraged the documentation of best practices to serve as a reference point for other African countries.
Congratulating the incoming members of the 10th Assembly, Kazadi highlighted the immense responsibility they carry as the voice of the people. He emphasized the urgent need to prioritize the health sector to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) and address the issue of insecurity in the country. Kazadi asserted that healthcare should be elevated in the Constitution and implemented as a commitment by authorities and legislatures.
Drawing from lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, he urged legislators to consider health as a fundamental right and ensure that all Nigerians have access to necessary healthcare without facing financial hardships. Kazadi shared evidence demonstrating the significant progress made by countries that achieved universal health coverage through public financing. He expressed WHO’s commitment to supporting Nigeria in repositioning its health system and aligning this commitment with global frameworks such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and the upcoming high-level meetings in New York.
Kazadi called for collective action to combat tuberculosis, non-communicable diseases, and other emerging health challenges. Furthermore, he invited legislators to contribute to WHO’s country cooperation strategy, emphasising their crucial role in accelerating health to achieve the SDG goals. He commended the leadership of the Ninth National Assembly and recognized their achievements in the health sector. Kazadi expressed his enthusiasm to collaborate with the incoming National Assembly and assured them of WHO’s continued support.
A representative of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health, Prof. Oladapo Ladipo highlighted the need for the new administration to prioritise health and health financing in the country. He urged the 10th Assembly to mainstream health and recognise it as a basic human right for all Nigerians to have access to. Ladipo emphasised the importance of implementing laws passed by its predecessor and called for critical, innovative financing for health, including the recommendation of taxes for the health sector, such as a tax for aeroplanes. He also emphasised the need for a mechanism to monitor the use of these funds. Ladipo further advocated for health to be included in the exclusive list of the new administration and he called for free contraceptive services to be made available.
In conclusion, the WHO’s call for increased healthcare expenditure in Nigeria highlights the critical need to prioritise the health sector and ensure access to quality healthcare for all citizens. By allocating more public funds to healthcare and implementing supportive policies, Nigeria can make significant progress towards achieving universal health coverage and improving the well-being of its population.