From our Special Correspondent
Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu have, among other stakeholders made and adopted recommendations on how to improve health results in Nigeria.
At the global launch of “The Lancet Nigeria Commission: Investing in health and the future of the nation,” the Vice President observed that the report established the linkage between health and social development of Nigeria.
The report defines the relationship between Nigerian citizens and the state, and details prevention needs to be the most important of all other considerations. Professor Osinbajo said: “We believe that health of Nigerians does matter. We focus on those living in rural areas. We welcome the innovations and excellent recommendations made by the report. The timing of the report is important. Mr. President has inaugurated the Health Reform Committee which he asked me to chair. We are committed to Universal Health Coverage, which led to the enactment of National Health Act (NHA) 2014.”
Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha said no matter the amount of investment made in the health sector of the country, there would always be the need for surgical change in health infrastructure. “We have an inadequately resourced health system. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and move toward recovery, our growing population needs increased investment in health. It needs to be evidence-based. We must learn from our multi-sectorial approach to COVID-19, to prioritize prevention and rational use of resources. I honestly believe that we need to invest in the future of Nigeria. I have come to learn that in spite of the weakness of our system, COVID-19 responded to science. No matter the investment, there is need for surgical change in the health infrastructure of the country. Our experts should look at what we have as health infrastructure and see how to revolutionalize it, using this report as an additional resource,” Mustapha said.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, explained that the report had been written by Nigerians for Nigeria. “Government must see health as a social contract and strategic investment. Achieving Universal Health Coverage is not negotiable. 2030 is only nine years away. All hands must be on deck to achieve the implementation of the recommendations of this report. Achieving UHC is a task that must be done, so help us God.”
Ehanire was represented by the Director of Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Alex Oko.
The commission was documented in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, which unveiled the inability of the country’s public health system to confront the challenges of new pathogens that threatened human health.
However, despite a history of unsatisfactory surveillance and diagnostics infrastructure, an analysis of COVID-19 diagnostics suggests that it is possible to rapidly improve other areas in the health sector with sufficient local resources and effort.
The commission aims to reposition future health policy in Nigeria to achieve UHC and better health for all and presents the analysis and evidence to support a positive and realistic future in the health sector of Nigeria.
It noted that Nigeria’s path to greater prosperity lies in investment in the social determinants of health and the health system. The commission was championed by Nigerian medical experts from local universities, agencies and those in Diaspora, including Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Dr. Sani Aliyu, Prof. Ibrahim Abubakar, Prof. Iruka and Prof. Obinna Onwujekwe.