We welcome you to this historic press conference organized by a Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and other professional associations in the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale (PACFaH@Scale) to mark the 2018 International Universal Health Coverage Day which is commemorated every 12th of December worldwide.
On December 12, 2012, the United Nations unanimously affirmed universal health coverage as an important pillar of sustainable development, urging countries, civil society and international organizations to make it part of the development agenda. The first universal health coverage day was held in 2014. In 2018, the theme is “unite for universal health coverage: now is the time for collective action”.
This press conference rounds off a two-day workshop that provided the PACFaH@Scale CSO the opportunity to learn more about universal health coverage (UHC). This included a reflection on the progress and barriers towards its attainment in Nigeria.
Let us first commend the federal government, the states, and local governments in the country for investing in the health sector despite the competing challenges for resources from other sectors.
Having said this, let us say that our coalition is calling on the three tiers of government to fund the second National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP II) and ensure accountability in its implementation in order to achieve universal health coverage in Nigeria.
Universal health coverage means that all Nigerians get quality health services where and when needed without suffering financial hardship.
Prior to the global movement of UHC, Nigeria developed health policies and structures such as the first National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP-I) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to increase access to healthcare, but despite these structures, the country was unable to achieve the objective of ensuring that every citizen has access to healthcare.
According to Nigeria’s National Health Account of 2014, for every N1, 000 spent on health, about N700 is out-of-pocket expenditure, a situation that is driving millions of Nigerians into poverty and denying them basic healthcare. Also, in 2001, following the Abuja declaration, Nigeria signed to commit at least 15% of her annual budget to improve the health sector, but in the last two decades, the highest federal budgetary allocation to health stands at 7%. With such under investment in healthcare, Nigeria cannot achieve Universal Health Coverage.
The meagre investment is further compounded by delay or non-release of funds appropriated. Even when funds are released, there are challenges of utilization and accountability. Other lingering barriers to UHC in the country include low political will to adequately fund healthcare, poor governance, mismanagement of resources and lack of coordination among federal, states and local governments.
The coalition believes that if these barriers are removed by fully funding, implementing and ensuring accountability of the NSHDP-II, every Nigerian will have access to affordable and quality health care.
Call to action
- All the tiers of government in Nigeria should fund, implement and ensure accountability of the second National Strategic Health Development Plan to achieve UHC.
- The federal government should release the Basic Health Care Provision Fund in the 2018 health budget without further delay.
- The government should also explore innovative ways of funding the health system in order to achieve UHC. An example of such innovation
would be the introduction of mobile phone tax that will involve charging one kobo per second on every outgoing mobile phone call in Nigeria.
We believe that the objectives of the UHC will be achieved in Nigeria if all tiers of government have the political will to implement recommendations proposed by the coalition.
While thanking you ladies and gentlemen of the press for your commitment towards building a better Nigeria, we call on you to continue to contribute your quota, ensuring that you hold the three tiers of government accountable. We especially urge you to continue to press for full funding of the second National Strategic Health Development Plan, a plan designed to ensure the attainment of the Universal Health Coverage.