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Strategic Retreat Identifies Key Steps To Strengthen Health Sector Oversight, Partnerships

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The Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage and Health Security (LNU) recently organised a strategic retreat that brought together the seven health committees of the National Assembly to devise a plan for enhancing health sector oversight and partnerships.

Clerk of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Fortune Ihua-Maduenyi stressed the significance of the retreat in the context of the nation’s efforts to accelerate Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health security.

The two-day retreat, titled “Setting a Legislative Health Agenda towards Strengthening Nigeria’s Primary Healthcare System and Health Institutions for UHC and Resilience,” aimed to assess Nigeria’s healthcare sector, review recent progress, identify challenges and formulate strategies for a more inclusive and resilient health system.

The outcomes of this retreat will shape the Legislative Health Agenda, defining annual legislative priorities and guiding legislative actions in the health sector for the next four years.

Several key action points emerged from discussions during the retreat:

Addressing suboptimal legislative oversight, often hindered by insufficient funding. It was proposed that at least five per cent of the National Assembly budget be allocated to oversight activities.

Strengthening domestic funding for the health sector by operationalising earmarked funds like the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF).

Revisiting pending health laws introduced by the previous Assembly, identifying issues and reintroducing bills such as the National Health Act (Amendment Bill), Public Health Emergency Bill, Port Health Authority (Establishment Bill), NAFDAC Act (Amendment) Bill, NPHCDA Act (Amendment) Bill, among others.

Encouraging development partners and civil society organisations to provide continued support to the National Assembly, particularly the joint health committee, to enhance primary healthcare and the health sector overall.

Recognizing the pivotal role of the private sector in health system strengthening, including primary healthcare, and fostering collaboration between legislators and stakeholders, including the private sector, development partners and civil society organisations. Legal backing for the adoption of primary healthcare centres by the private sector was also suggested.

Managing partner of Development Governance International Consultants, D. Gafar Alawode discussed the next steps. The secretariat will integrate activities identified across all thematic areas into the Legislative Health Agenda (LHA), develop and disseminate reports and media briefs and support states in developing their own LHAs. Additionally, the secretariat will plan and host the National Legislative Health Summit and extend support to Ghana in creating its Legislative Health Agenda.

The retreat delved into essential healthcare sector issues, including financing, social protection and the implementation of health initiatives. It underscored the collaborative efforts required between the National Assembly health committees, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other stakeholders to achieve health reform goals.

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