UHC: Nigeria Launches National Investment Initiative Today

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Dr. Muhammad Pate.
Prof. Muhammad Pate.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has unveiled the National Investment Initiative, as part of significant moves towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The official signing of the compact to operationalise this groundbreaking initiative took place in Abuja today, December 12, 2023 and involved the Federal and state governments alongside key development partners.

The announcement came during a pre-event press briefing in Abuja on Monday, where the Minister of Health and Social Development, Prof. Ali Pate shed light on the Nigeria Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative (NHSRII). He emphasised its pivotal role in realising the goal of UHC for Nigeria and highlighted the government’s unwavering commitment, particularly under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to ensure equitable and optimal health outcomes for the nation.

“The quest to achieve UHC and better health for all Nigerians requires a multisector, whole-of-government approach,” stated Pate. “The government of Nigeria has articulated NHSRII to advance the nation’s journey towards UHC. The initiative comprises the Basic Healthcare Provision SWAp and the Nigeria Healthcare Industrialisation Programme”.

The NHSRII directly addresses poor population health outcomes exacerbated by highly inequitable and geospatial disparities. Leveraging the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) in collaboration with state governments and development partners, the initiative represents a transformative, sector-wide approach to improving health outcomes. This includes plans to train additional human resources for health and make available at least 17,000 functional public primary healthcare Centres.

“The commitment to expanding the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and increasing the number of primary health care centres aligns with the National Health Act’s objectives,” noted Pate. “The comprehensive strategy involves assessing existing facilities, improving infrastructure, ensuring a sufficient health workforce and actively engaging local communities for feedback.”

He acknowledged the existing challenges in functionality within the health system but expressed the government’s dedication to addressing these concerns as part of the broader strategy.

The minister emphasised that the initiative aims to guide the renewal of Nigeria’s health system, with a specific focus on driving towards UHC. The ultimate goal is to ensure that every Nigerian, regardless of location, economic status, or employment, can access essential services for a healthy life without financial strain.

The executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Muyi Aina echoed the sentiment that strengthening primary healthcare is a crucial step towards building a sustainable healthcare system capable of responding effectively to the population’s healthcare needs.

“The successful implementation of the NHSRII by PHC can significantly contribute to achieving UHC in the country, ensuring that every Nigerian has access to quality healthcare services without suffering financial hardship,” stated Aina.

He also provided updates on the payment of health workers under the Expanded Midwives Service Scheme (eMSS), assuring them that their salaries are a top priority for the administration. He explained the necessary steps taken before initiating salary payments, including documentation verification, orientation on roles and responsibilities, and the uploading of bank details on the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) platform.

While acknowledging interruptions in the process due to errors in account details or mismatches, Aina expressed gratitude for the health workers’ commitment and apologised for any inconveniences caused. He reaffirmed NPHCDA’s dedication to promoting the health of Nigerians and achieving Universal Health Coverage in alignment with the government’s promise to provide quality healthcare for all.

This bold move towards a National Investment Initiative signifies Nigeria’s commitment to prioritising health and ensuring that the entire population can access essential healthcare services, marking a significant stride towards Universal Health Coverage.

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