How to improve health outcomes in Nigeria, by Osinbajo, Mustapha, others
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, and other stakeholders, yesterday, made and adopted recommendations on how to improve health outcomes in Nigeria.
Osinbajo, at the global launch of “The Lancet Nigeria Commission: Investing in health and the future of the nation,” observed: “The report established the linkage between health and social development of our country. It defines the relationship between the citizens and the state, as well as prevention needs to be at the top of all considerations. We believe that health of Nigerians do matter. We focus on those living in rural areas.
“We welcome 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 (UHC), which led to the enactment of National Health Act (NHA) 2014.”
Mustapha said no matter the amount of investment in health in the country, there is need for surgical change in health infrastructure.
He explained: “We have inadequately resourced health system. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and move to 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, prioritising prevention coupled with 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. As experts, look at what we have as health infrastructure and see how to revolutionalise them using the report as an additional resource.”
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said: “This report has been written by Nigerians for Nigeria. Government must see health as a social contract and strategic investment. Achieving UHC 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 scribbled in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, which has laid bare the inability of the public health system to confront new pathogens with threats to human health. However, despite a history of weak surveillance and diagnostics infrastructure, the scale-up of COVID-19 diagnostics suggests that it is possible to rapidly improve other areas with sufficient local effort and resources.
The commission aims to reposition future health policy in Nigeria to achieve UHC and better health for all. This commission presents analysis and evidence to support a positive and realistic future for Nigeria. The body addresses historically intractable challenges with a new narrative.
“Nigeria’s path to greater prosperity lies in investment in the social determinants of health and the health system,” it noted.
The commission was championed by Nigerian medical experts from local universities, agencies and those in Diaspora, including Ihekweazu, Dr. Sani Aliyu, Prof. Ibrahim Abubakar, Prof. Iruka and Okeke, Prof. Obinna Onwujekwe.