‘Non-implementation Of Policies Critical To Universal Health Coverage Attainment’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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‘Non-implementation Of Policies Critical To Universal Health Coverage Attainment’

Posted: Jun 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

 Chioma Umeha

Lagos-A Health Economist, Dr Elaine Baruwa, has identified lack of political will and non-implementation of policies as major challenges toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria. Baruwa said this at a workshop organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and an NGO, Health Finance and Governance (HFG), in Lagos, recently. According to him, Nigeria has made progress in developing policies that will support healthcare financing reform to get us where we want to through UHC. “Where we are lacking is implementation; and I think we need to develop stronger plans for implementation. “Another area is the political will; the truth is that we under-spend on health in Nigeria. “At the federal level, for example, the 2016 budget is lower than 2015 budget and so we are moving in the wrong direction. “If we want to achieve UHC, we need to contribute and put forward more resources for health. “But understandably, we have to be able to explain well how we are going to use those resources,“ Baruwa, who is also a Principal Associate with Apt Associate, an NGO, said. She said that the nation’s health status was very poor, pointing out that less than five per cent of the population had some form of health insurance. According to her, how a country measures the attainment of UHC is in terms of its health status. “For example, percentage of children that are immunised, we look at it also, in terms of the percentage of women who are pregnant and attending antenatal care. “On those two indicators alone, we are not doing as well as some of our neighbouring countries. “We have to make a lot of progress; we are not doing well in terms of health status and in terms of financial protection, “ Baruwa said. She urged Nigerians to hold the government accountable whenever it made statements around UHC, health insurance and committing resources. “It is not enough for the leaders to say they will do things; if they are not doing them, we must make noise. “On the part of the government, the commitment to health in financial terms is inadequate; it is not just the government. “I think those of us in the health sector have not always made a good case; so, I think there is work to be done on both sides,“ Baruwa said. Also speaking, Dr Gafar Alawode, a Chief of Party for USAID funded HGF project, said that the workshop was aimed at bringing all stakeholders together to understand the basic health financing concepts. Alawode said that the stakeholders would collectively look at the existing policy framework and introduce mechanisms that would strengthen the healthcare financing system.