A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), says progress toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC) requires keeping adolescents healthy as they represent critical window of opportunity in the country.
Mr Muhammad Usman, Chairman, National Advocates for Health, who spoke on behalf of the CSOs said this in Abuja on Sunday at the two-day strategic retreat organised by the African Health Budget Network (AHBN).
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the retreat reviewed the country’s Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition- (RMNCAH+N), Recovery Plan Scorecard & Validate the Family Planning (FP), 2030 Accountability Motion Tracker Template.
Usman said that investment in adolescents delivered “multiple dividends,” improved health and enhancement throughout the life course and contributing to the health of future generations.
“Healthy adolescents also fuel economic growth by contributing to increased productivity, reduced health expenditure, and the interruption of inter-generational transmission of poor health, poverty and discrimination.
“For every Naira invested in adolescent health, there is an estimated ten-fold health, social and economic return,” he said.
The Coordinator, AHBN, Dr Aminu Magashi urged that National health strategies and investment plans for UHC must include adolescents.
This, according to him, is with emphasis on the most vulnerable and marginalized adolescents and their families to ensure equity.
Magashi said that investment in vertical or single-issue programmes was rarely efficient.
“Programmes should be designed to address multiple risk factors and vulnerabilities and all adolescents should be covered by mandatory, prepaid and pooled funding with user fees reduced or eliminated,” he said.
Magashi said that adolescents should be empowered to initiate action and influence decisions that affected their health and development through mechanisms that allowed for meaningful participation.
“This should be bolstered with disaggregated and regular data to know the magnitude of disease burden, health needs and barriers to services for this age group,” he said.
The coordinator said that the RMNCAEH+N recovery plan during the COVID-19 accountability scorecard was developed through rigorous analysis of the 2022 Federal Government-approved budget, ‘’Others included review and validation meetings and independent monitoring of the activities of the RMNCAEH+N National Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Coordination Platform.
‘’The scorecard which had three categories was to serve as an evidence tool to be used by all stakeholders including CSOs, media, advocates, young people and development partners.
‘’This was to strategically influence actions that would promote performance, transparency and accountability in the implementation of country’s RMNCAEH+N continuity response plan (2020-2022) during COVID-19,’’ he said.
Magashi said that the scorecard reported three categories including Governance and Leadership, Budgetary Allocation and Disbursement, Accountability and Transparency.
He added: “The stakeholders further urged the RMNCAEH+N platform to formalize the participation of CSOs and youth constituencies with clear roles and modalities of engagement.
“They also recommended that CSOs and youth representatives on the RMNCAEH+N platform strengthen meaningful engagement with their constituencies through formal channels for inputs and feedback.
“Other recommendations put forward by the stakeholders include the provision of a dedicated page to be created on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies.
”Information about budget releases and expenditure could be posted and sighted there “The CSOs, youth and media to engage the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance and donor community to galvanise collaborative efforts.
” Magashi said that this is to strengthen the RMNCAEH+N platform and support implementation of the recovery plan.
“The NGOs, advocates and other critical stakeholders must find a way of talking to the government and the Ministry of Finance in particular and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) for the release of approved budgets,” he said.
Magashi said that investments in family planning were aimed at saving the lives of women and children, which would lead to prosperity for all.
“Family planning, therefore, is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are aimed at ending poverty and improving wellness and health.
”It is also key to end hunger as well as promoting gender equality.
“That’s why a country as populous as Nigeria needs to promptly release the budget for the procurement of FP commodities,” he said.
Also speaking on behalf of health journalists, the President of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), Mr Hassan Zaggi, said that in most countries, health systems and services were mainly designed for either young children or adults.
“Given their specific health and development needs, adolescents require responsive anticipatory models of service delivery.
“Due to biological and gender-based differences that result in varied health risks and disease incidence, these health services must always apply an appropriate gender lens.
‘’Government need to reach adolescents with high quality, well-coordinated and well-integrated programmes in their everyday context,” Zaggi said.
Meanwhile, Mr Olympus Ade-banjo, Chairman, Africa Health Budget Network Meaningful Adolescent and Youth Engagement Working Group, said that inadequate allocation of resources was a major challenge for implementing the good plan Nigeria had for family planning.
Ade-banjo said that expanding the narrative of family planning from being a core health issue to a development issue would provide the opportunity to prioritize family planning as human capital and socio-economic development issue and for the achievement of the SDGs. He said that the nation as a pre-transition country had a high fertility rate of 5.2 per women and a very youthful population bulge.
NAN recalls that Nigeria formally launched the 2030 FP commitment in March 2022. The FP 2030 Commitment which has 8 focus areas states that by the end of 2030, Nigeria envisions a country where everyone including adolescents, young people and populations affected by crisis and other vulnerable populations can make informed choices.
NAN also recalls that they should have equitable and affordable access to quality family planning and participate equally in society’s development.
Save the Children International (SCI) and the Legislative Advocacy Initiative for Sustainable Development (LISDEL) have enlisted the support of Kaduna State Assembly for increased investment in the health sector toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Mr Farouk Abdulkadir, Advocacy and Campaign Coordinator, SCI, said on Saturday, at a capacity building of the lawmakers in kano, that the support of the lawmakers was key to achieving UHC in Kaduna State.
Abdulkadir explained that the capacity building was to enhance their capacities and deepen their understanding on health financing and UHC in line with the goals of Primary Health Care and health policies.
He added that the engagement would enable the lawmakers to develop a Legislative Health Agenda for the remaining part of 2022 and 2023, that would guide legislative interventions in the state’s health sector.
“The workshop will also enhance the understanding of the lawmakers’ roles in increasing healthcare financial and protection of the poor and vulnerable against health risks,” he said.
Mr Usman Mohammed, Vice President, LISDEL, commended the leadership of the state Assembly for the commitment to contribute their quota in improving access to quality basic healthcare service in the state.
Mohammed said lawmakers were expected to support the needed legislation that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness health insurance scheme being implemented by the Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Authority (KADCHMA).
The Director-General, KADCHMA, Mr Abubakar Hassan, also commended the leadership of the state Assembly for their support to improving the health and wellbeing of the people of the state.
Hassan acknowledged the contribution of the lawmakers to the achievements being recorded in the state’s health insurance scheme.
He pointed out that the poor and vulnerable population, including women, children and persons with disabilities were accessing free basic health care services in health facilities , courtesy of the law passed by the Assembly.
He commended LISDEL, SCI and the state Ministry of Health for supporting the authority to deliver its mandate the best way possible.
On her part, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Mohammed-Baloni, equally expressed joy with the level of attention the lawmakers accord to the health sector.
Mohammed-Baloni, who was represented by the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr Joseph Sunday, particularly thanked the state assembly for its support during the budgeting process.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Yusuf Zailani, said that the capacity building would improve their knowledge on the workings of the health sector and enable the lawmakers to improve their oversight function.
Zailani, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Dr Isaac Auta, reiterated the state Assembly’s continued support to ensure the sector gets the needed financial resources to implement its programmes and projects.
One of the facilitators, Dr Olanrewaju Olayemi, said that the attainment of the UHC largely depends on the availability of financial resources to implement planned programmes and projects.
YouthHubAfrica in collaboration with Christian Aid on Friday enrolled 200 vulnerable persons in Gwagwalada, Bwari and Waru communities into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Health Insurance Scheme.
Mr Rotimi Olawale ,Executive Director ,YouthHubAfrica, made this known at the handing-over ceremony of cards to beneficiaries in Waru ,Abuja .
Olawale said that the project was implemented to promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in FCT to enable them access quality health care for a period of 12 months for free.
“Health insurance coverage is low in Nigeria and people who are covered are mostly covered by the organisations they work for .
” However , people who work in the informal sector do not have such privilege, many of them do not believe that health can be free or could have their insurance covered.
“Most of them pay out of pocket and when they cannot pay they simply do not go to the hospitals and that is where the marginalisation comes to play ,” he said.
Olawale said the idea was to partner with the FCT Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to assist indigent people access quality health care.
” Our team went to the field with a pre-designed survey, the idea was to identify people who are below a certain level of earnings or marginalised persons would benefit the most from this health insurance scheme .
” We paid on their behalf and register them under the FCT Health Insurance Scheme .
“So today’s event is to present the registration card to the beneficiaries we hope that when they get registered in this service, they will be able to access services at the different hospitals, “he said.
Prof. Mohammed Sambo, Chief Executive Officer, FCT National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) , represented by Mr Greg Azubuke ,NHIA, FCT Coordinator ,commended YouthHubAfrica for the initiative.
Sambo said that the agency attached great importance to the gesture .
He said, “Health insurance is a situation whereby you can just walk into a facility of your choice and access the best possible medical attention without paying a dime .
“That is what we are here to do by the good will of YouthHubAfrica, they have been able to register 200 people from three communities in the FCT .
“By virtue of this registration, these 200 lucky people can easily walk into a hospital of their choice and be treated for whatever ailments ailments they may and walk out without paying a kobo.
” Sambo called on other citizens of goodwill to emulate the example set by YouthHubAfrica by visiting communities and picking certain numbers of people and make them access quality and affordable healthcare in hospital of their choice.
He said the burden should not be left to government alone because it takes collaborative efforts to tackle issues and urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity.
Mr Temitope Fashola, Country Director ,Christian Aid ,represented by Dorcas Asaolu, Health and Human Development Intern, said achieving universal health coverage meant that everybody has access to needed good quality healthcare without suffering financial hardship .
Fashola said that the LGA UHC Initiative project was born in 2020 to achieve healthcare coverage for all .
“Christian Aid Nigeria has over the course of two years taken the initiative from Nasarawa to Benue and the FCT .
” This handing over of the FCT Health Insurance Scheme cards to participants is in line with the UHC goal and built on adoption model to stimulate trust.
“This is a strong affirmation that with our joint efforts, we can push our cooperation in improving access to quality ,timely and affordable health care for all.
” The District Head of Waru ,Ibrahim Sarki ,thanked YouthHubAfrica for the gesture.
He said he had been a beneficiary of health insurance scheme in the past so he understood how much the organisation would have spent to grant his community members health insurance.
” I want to show my appreciation to YouthHubAfrica that on behalf of my people we are happy ,”he said
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has expressed commitment to support traditional medicine practitioners in the country.
The Minister of State for Health, Mr Joseph Ekumankama, said this at the commemoration of the 2022 African Traditional Medicine day on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ekumankama said that traditional medicine played a major role in people’s life and national development but its innovation was still low or remained on individuals.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of this year’s celebration is “Two decades of African traditional medicine day: Progress towards achieving universal health coverage in Africa”.
Ekumankama said the theme called for taking stock of achievements in the sector since the inception of the annual remembrance of ATM Day from 2001-2020 and the impact on the healthcare delivery system.
“Indeed, Nigeria and other African countries have delivered on key policies and programmes, aimed at promoting and developing various forms of TCAM practices and products within the region,” he said.
The minister said that the progress recorded so far was critical to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
According to him, about 80 per cent of the population, especially those residing in rural communities, patronise TCAM services as their main source of health care.
He said that the availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability of TCAM made it popular among communities.
“Achieving UHC requires multiple approaches which include the primary health care approach, life course approach, and both are critical.
“A primary health care approach focuses on organising and strengthening the health system so that people can access services based on their needs and preferences, at the earliest, and in their everyday environments,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative, Dr Francis Ukwuije, Health Economist, said that Nigeria was one of the African countries that reported improvement in the availability, affordability, accessibility and safety of traditional nedicine practices.
Ukwuije said that the country produced and was involved in the large-scale cultivation of medicinal plants and producing traditional medicine locally.
He said this was according to the progress report on the implementation of traditional medicine strategy in Africa.
“There were submissions from Nigeria to the regional expert committee for products developed as therapeutics for COVID-19, the submissions are still under review,” he said.
He called on governments to continue to strengthen collaboration between science, technology and innovation institutions such as NIPRD, NIMR; traditional health practitioners and the private sector.
He said that such collaboration would fast-track research and development, and local manufacturing of traditional medicine-based therapeutics for the health and well-being of Africa’s people.
He, however, said that WHO would continue to provide technical assistance to Nigeria to ensure local manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals and traditional medicine-based therapeutics.
On the role of traditional medicine in treatment of COVID-19, Zainab Sharif, Director and Head of Department Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (TCAM), said COVID-19 called for the need to exploit the African treasures by looking inward for local solutions.
Sharif said the pandemic had harnessed awareness of the values of traditional medicine, investing in research to produce home-grown solutions and well-being of the Continent.
“TMPs submissions of 59 herbal products for the management of COVID-19-related symptoms have led to the listing of some herbal products.
Pharmaceutical companies in Western countries are looking forward to Africa for APIs. “COVID-19 herbal medicines such as Madagascan COVID-19 herbal mixture has been reportedly used in the management of patients with related symptoms and is currently under the third phase of clinical trial.
“Trials in 12 Member States, including South Africa, Nigeria, and Congo are currently ongoing.
TMPs have played a significant role in prevention measures in most communities in Africa,” she said.
Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara says 34,000 vulnerable persons have access to free healthcare under the state government’s Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHPF).
Matawalle, represented by his Deputy, Sen. Hassan Nasiha, made this known at the event organised to unveil the BHCPF by State Contributory Health Care Management Agency (ZAMCHEMA) held in Talata Mafara town, Talata Mafara Local Government area of the state “As we all know, access to affordable healthcare continues to be a challenge for most households due to the high level of poverty and the Health Insurance population coverage throughout the country has remained low.
“This challenge forced most states of the federation to domesticate the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) based on religion and traditional value systems and other peculiarities.
“I am happy to say that, the scheme is envisaged as one of the successful reforms in the health sector in the state with over 15,595 prospective enrolles in the Formal Sector Programme and 34,000 vulnerable population to be covered under the BHCPF”, Matawalle said.
He said that the scheme is part of his administration’s intervention towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by ensuring all residents of the state have access to effective, quality and affordable health care services.
“This is also part of our vision to protect families from the financial hardships of huge medical bills and ensure improvement in the healthcare throughout the State.
“Our vision is to achieve UHC for all residents of the state, no one is left behind in accessing healthcare services”, the governor added.
He commended the state ministry for health and the agency for their commitment tp the success of the scheme.
“This is a clear indication that both ministry and agency have all it takes to be a point of reference in achieving the UHC in the state”, he explained.
The commissioner for health, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, called on traditional rulers and Community Based Organisations to monitor the implementation of the program at facility level of their respective domains.
Abubakar said that the state government has bought drugs and other consumables to ensure free treatment of all beneficiaries under the scheme at all facilities in the state.
“There is also provision for referral for patients from Primary Health Care to Secondary up to Tertiary facilities”, the commissioner said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary ZAMCHEMA, Dr Abdulkadir Shinkafi said all the 34,000 beneficiaries of the scheme comprised under five children, pregnant women, the aged and other categories of less privileged and vulnerable groups.
Shinkafi noted that the NHIS has accr
Kebbi State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (KECHEMA) has inaugurated gateways forum committee members to provide quality healthcare services to the people of the state.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Ja’afar Muhammad-Augie, while inaugurating the committee in Binrin Kebbi on Tuesday, said it aimed at addressing some challenges encountered by the agency in the state.
He said,“ The overall aim of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) committee is to significantly move the people of the state towards achieving Universal Health Care (UHC).
“They are both based on the current National Strategic Health Development Plan II (2018-2022) in the medium term and the long-term goals for UHC, including the health- related goals.
’’ Muhammad-Augie said the committee had been actually operational but informal, adding that Primary Healthcare Development Agency (PHCDA) and KECHEMA inaugurated the committee to address challenges encountered in 2021 by the healthcare provision fund.
“Though, we have not been having regular meetings, I am sure the meetings are going to be regular on important issues that are going to be addressed as the beneficiaries are all and sundry in the state.
“Therefore, the gateways forum is premised upon the objective to promote synergy among the gateways, good collaboration among the implementing gateways and for the gateways to agree on a common goal.
“Others are to foster unity and good working relationship towards achieving the set standard of BHCPF as well as steering a goal to achieve UHC,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the committee’s members were drawn from state PHCDA, KECHEMA and local government areas.
Those in at the inauguration included representatives of USAID, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
Evolving health cum economic emergencies clearly highlight the urgent need for countries like Nigeria to adopt economic policies that are new, unusual, achieveable and effective. These will be aimed at accelerating improved human capital development, productivity and optimal harnessing of Demographic Dividend. Demographic Dividend, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is the accelerated economic growth that may result from decline in a country’s birth and death rates and the subsequent change in the age structure of the population. Understandably, it is an economic boom achieved when there is increase in productivity with increase in the working age of the population structure and lesser dependency ratio. The trajectory of demographic dividend stems from economic boom of the four Asian Tigers namely Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan whereby the Asian Tigers economies recovered strongly as the world revived from financial crisis. The recovery, according to Dr Eyitayo Oyetunji, Federal Commissioner representing Oyo on National Population Commission (NPC), is highly attributable to government stimulus programmes in each region. Oyetunji explains that the programmes resulted in greater than four per cent growth in the GDP of each country in 2009. To mitigate the socioeconomic among other challenges, Nigeria is expected to rejig her economy. A league of health and economic experts hence call on Nigeria to invest rightly on education and health. Dr Dasogot Dashe of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says that for Nigeria to achieve demographic dividend, sufficient investment must be made in education and health sectors of the country. Describing education and health as the rallying point of most sectors of the economy, Dashe says it is unfortunate that the two sectors are being neglected in terms of adequate funding. He says education, especially that of the girl-child, as well as health remain key in economic advancement of every nation. According to him, it is only when a girl-child is educated that she can be knowledgeable about fertility reduction through family planning. Consequently, Dashe emphasises the need for government at all levels and all times to ensure the availability and accessibility of quality healthcare for her populace for human capital development. Dr Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank, identifies poor implementation and monitoring of policies as the major challenges impeding the country’s achievement of demographic dividend. According to Okunola, global policies as Universal Basic Education (UBE) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) must be domesticated practically and strictly in Nigeria to transit the country to enjoy demographic dividend. The World Bank health specialist enthuses that the usual complacency on out of school children especially girls must be jettisoned and a policy of mandatory education for all especially girls adopted. He expresses optimism on the impactful outcome of mandatory education for girls as having the potential to not just increase the country’s productivity level but reduce fertility rate of Nigeria. “Making sure a girl stays longer in school at least from primary to secondary school will prevent child marriage. “It will also reduce fertility rate as well as reduce maternal mortality by educating the girl on her sexual and reproductive health rights. ” Advocacies for right investment are also made by Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, Country Director World Bank at different fora. Chaudhuri faults the subsidy investment on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by Nigeria, saying such huge amount of money should be invested in education and health. He opines that government’s policies are critical in either achieving demographic dividend or disaster, hence Nigeria should embrace emphasis on beneficial economic roadmaps to attain sustainable development. These policies should be vehemently and indeed practically pursued with uncompromising implementation and monitoring. Also, government should begin to interrogate the efficiency of global goals as UBE and UHC to ascertain its impact. “Nigeria as a matter of urgency should rise above arm chair policy formulation but strict implementation like the Asian Tigers. “Nigeria, as the most populous country in Africa like the Asian Tigers, should strive to achieve economic growth through exports and rapid industrialisation. “Therefore, it is paramount for Nigeria to take advantage of its youthful bulge to drive productivity. ” Nevertheless, Nigeria has a favourable demography, says Mr Clement Agba, Minister of Budget and National Planning, at the UN Population Fund’s Validation of 9th Country Programme Document (CPD) for the span of 2023 to 2027. Agba asserts that the country, with her youthful bulge, has an active and productive population structure that is highly productive for attendant demographic dividend. On his part, Dr Ejike Oji, Chairman Technical Management Committee Association for the Advancement of Family Planning in Nigeria (AAFP), identifies family planning as key to achieving sustainable development through harnessing of favourable demography. Oji says that until Nigeria’s fertility rate of 5.3 per woman is brought down minimally, achieving demographic dividend would remain a mirage. He explains that that access to quality healthcare is inevitable in achieving reduction in fertility rate. According to him, many women tend to have many children as a result of fear of infant mortality which points to the gap in quality healthcare. Understandably, government should take aggressive steps in closing the gap in maternal and infant mortality through vaccinations and antenatal care. This supports that girl and women education is fundamental to attaining human capital development or demographic dividend. Certainly, an educated girl or woman must know when to be pregnant and how many children to have and the facilities for infant vaccination to avert morbidities and mortalities. Indicators at the recent launch of the revised National Population Policy bring to fore the country’s quest to address high fertility rate, as President Muhammadu Buhari’s demonstrates the government’s commitment to addressing fertility rate of the country by launching the Revised National Population Policy on Feb. 3, 2022 . Dr Okai Aku, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), expresses worry over Nigeria’s low Contraceptive Prevalence Rate which is 12 per cent. Aku advocates intensive expansion of access to modern contraceptive methods across the country to increase the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate. Also, Ms Margaret Edison, Director, Population Management, National Population Commission (NPC), reiterates the urgency to address Nigeria’s sustained high fertility rate, through expanding access to modern family planning, counselling and commodities as well as promote births spacing. Edison, who scores Rwanda high, urges Nigeria to achieve rapid fertility control, improve the health of women, adolescents, new born and children, and other population groups to achieve demographic dividend. She expresses the importance of investing in quality education of young people especially girls, human capital development, advancing holistic effort to achieve significant demographic transition. The Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Kwarra, urges Nigerians to embrace the noble ideals of Planned Parenthood and healthy reproductive behaviours. He highlights the imperatives of “Rights and Choices” as embedded in UNFPA’s concept “Bodily Autonomy” which necessitates the urgency to shift the conversation from quantitative population to qualitative population. According to him, it is high time for Nigeria to harness her teeming 216 population from liability to asset by transforming the development landscape of the country. “The call to place emphasis on the people requires looking beyond the numbers to according attention to the profile and characteristics of the population. . ” Kwarra opines that such would be better explained by the age structure which shows the ratio of various age groups as a determining factor for the current and prospective fertility or reproductive status of the population. As such, focusing on numbers underplay the importance of “Rights and Choices”, he says. Kwarra like Mr Clement Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, affirms Nigeria’s favourable demography. He explains that the country’s age structure favours young people, those below the ages 30 years who make up over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population On the other hand, Kwara says the current youthful age structure has the capacity to hold the momentum that would drive and sustain increase of the population growth into the future without immediate interventions. Interventions through provision of quality and sustained investments in healthcare particularly in family planning for women and Adolescents. Furthermore, transformative and relevant education for growing numbers of children and young people that fit in into the present and future jobs requirements, housing and decent employments across successive administrations and governance. That good governance through ingenious and people oriented policies are critical elements in achieving Demographic Dividend is axiomatic. Therefore, introspectively, the federal government, in fact the three tiers of government in Nigeria should vehemently address the emerging population challenges with germane and productive policies to achieve Demographic Dividend. Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has argued that “Societies that invest in their people, in their Rights and Choices, have the proven that such investments create the road to enduring peace and prosperity everyone desires and deserves. ” In line with this postulation, Nigeria needs to harness her favourable demography and use as a catalyst for economic growth. Nigeria is expected as matter of urgency to key into the scores of global Development plans to actually achieve their domestic desirable aspirations. This “miracle”, like the Asian Tigers, will be tenable when millions who are of working age are engaged productively Therefore, Nigeria at this juncture should vigorously pursue her National Development Plan of 2021 to 2025 to avert demographic disaster. Efforts must be in top gear to achieve reduction in Total Fertility rate of current 5.3 per woman especially Adolescent fertility of 104 children per 1000 women. Essentially, economic and health analysts therefore are urging Nigeria to match their words with action by harnessing the youthful bulge to achieve Demographic Dividend. In conclusion, reduction in high mortality and morbidity rates for children and adolescent mothers with heavy investment in the health and reproductive education remain non negotiable in achieving Demographic Dividend. In addition, importantly, girl child education should be considered national agenda both the at state and community levels in line with the UNFPA’s transformative results of ending preventable maternal mortality. Including unmet need for family planning as well as Gender Based Violence (GBV) and harmful practices for desirable healthy lives cum productive and healthy economy. Nigerian political gladiators both at national and sub-national levels should rise to the occasion by way of policy formulation, implementation and monitoring to transition her youthful bulge from liability to asset. NewsSourceCredit: NAN
The National Cancer Task Force is proposing a series of interventions that it says will enable the country to adequately address the challenge posed by cancer.
In a report delivered to Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe on Wednesday, the task force recommends improving service delivery, the health workforce, health products and technologies, health information and research, coupled with adequate funding and a strong leadership and governance framework.
According to the task force's chair, Dr. Mary Nyangasi, the country needed to implement strategic investments to ensure that Kenyans are protected against the health and economic impacts of the growing burden of cancer.
Speaking while receiving the report, the Health CS said the recommendations should provide a platform for the country to decisively address the burden of cancer, which continues to contribute to the disease burden and financial catastrophe for many households and communities.
This even as she called for the need to bring all stakeholders together, including the council of governors, to ensure concurrence and smooth implementation of the recommendations.
In its report, the task force has identified a number of gaps in the country's cancer care delivery model.
Recommendations include adopting a hub-and-spoke concept in cancer management through the creation of a cancer center of excellence focused on clinical care, research and training as a hub for the country, accelerating development of the oncology workforce through local and international training collaborations.
such as the establishment of innovative financing mechanisms.
The mechanism includes enhancing UHC's benefit package to cover cancer services across the continuum, supporting cancer screening in primary health care through conditional grants to counties, and creating from a cancer fund.
The working group also recommends the introduction of pricing policy regulation on cancer health products and technologies (HPT), as well as framework agreements to reduce the cost of HPT.
The working group has also proposed strengthening the legislative framework on cancer prevention and control by revising existing policies and guidelines on cancer prevention and control, as well as reviewing and amending the Cancer Prevention and Control Act. The amendment is intended to make the national cancer institute fully operational, strengthen the institute's regulatory, research and training role, establish a cancer fund, and regulate and coordinate cancer management services.
The task force also wants to get the National Cancer Institute of Kenya (NCI-K) up and running through the development of relevant regulations and enabling instruments for the employment of competent staff to fulfill its mandate.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Kenya and one of the main contributors to the impoverishment of affected individuals and their families.
The ministry of health recognized the need to address the growing challenges stemming from cancer and appointed a National Cancer Task Force in May 2021.
The task force was tasked with reviewing the current institutional framework for cancer management, evaluating the capacity of human resources, technologies, medical products and infrastructure for cancer.
The team was also expected to analyze local actors and stakeholders as well as global best practices in cancer care, review the adequacy of existing legal and policy instruments for the cancer response, and recommend strategic interventions to reform care delivery.
of cancer services across the country.
The health ministry has committed to partnering with the private sector to accelerate ongoing reforms within the health sector.
Speaking at a Nairobi hotel during a meeting with members of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), CS Mutahi Kagwe of health said that collaborations and partnerships are critical tools for transformation, as they make it possible to implement critical development.
“Mnajua waswahili husema”, “Kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa”. Through collaboration, we have seen the current government implement mega-projects in different sectors of the economy”, Kagwe presented.
He said that the covid-19 pandemic caused the health ministry to work with various private sector actors to combat the pandemic and achieve Universal Health Coverage.
Citing a program implemented by the Ministry of Health in partnership with KNCCI between 2020 and 2021 to support the development and manufacture of 7.5 million PPE as an incentive to promote local fabric manufacturers and producers, Kagwe said the country has achieved spectacular results that are not only an encouragement, but also a stamp of approval for collaboration as a tool for economic transformation.
He noted that the demand for quality health care services has led to the growth of commercial services in the health sector, adding that there are numerous opportunities to scale up innovative approaches and new technologies to rapidly accelerate progress towards UHC. This even as he urged the private sector to explore the opportunities available in the sector.
“I like to encourage people to think globally. As we position ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities available locally, we must also examine the regional and international environment to see how we can take advantage of the global market.
Speaking during the forum, House Speaker Richard Ngatia praised the government for its support during the pandemic, saying it helped reshape local businesses. He said the chamber remains ready to partner with the health ministry in its efforts to improve the country's health outcomes.
Sone health experts have called for urgent revitalisation of Nigeria’s Primary Health Care (PHC) system to enable improved access to adequate medicare.
The experts made the call on Friday at the Nextier Health virtual dialogue on “Revitalising Nigeria’s PHC System“ in continuation of Nextier Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Series.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Nextier UHC Series is one of the flagship programmes of Nextier Health.
The series draw attention to contemporary health issues in Nigeria and globally through the views of health system experts and practitioners.
Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, in his keynote address, highlighted the urgent need to address the challenges in the country’s PHC system.
Abayomi, who was represented by Dr Ibrahim Mustapha, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State PHC Board, said the major challenges facing PHC services included inadequate financing and human resources.
He said that other challenges were weak governance and accountability structures, poor data collection and transmission systems, limited access to medicines and essential infrastructure in PHC settings and supply chain.
Abayomi said that PHC system would require significant improvement to achieve UHC.
“All relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors need to intensify their efforts and build sustainable partnerships to rejuvenate Nigeria’s PHC,” he said.
Chima Onoka, Head of Operations, Health Policy Research Group, said there was need for a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities of all tiers of government to ensure accountability processes.
Onoka, also a Community Physician, said each tiers of government should have financial autonomy to ensure it had the resources to perform its roles and responsibilities.
He said that local governments had not been able to effectively provide PHC services partly because they did not have direct control over their resources.
Onoka advised stakeholders at Federal and state government levels to focus on programme implementation and also provide financial and technical support for the health system leaders.
He, however, said that such health system leaders should be held accountable for expected responsibilities and resources.
Onoka said that the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Development Partners in ensuring accountability emphasised the need for proper incentives to be considered in the design of accountability systems.
He called for a review of the scorecard for assessing performance in the Primary Healthcare System with best practices from other countries as bench mark.
Onoka recommended the need for stakeholders to present performance scorecards to the universities and similar independent institutions, that could assess the performance of PHC programmes and interventions objectively.
He said that for more objective review performance, development partners, stakeholders, CSOs and the public should also be allowed to review the reports and ask the right questions.
“This is in contrast to the current practice in which performance scorecards are presented to the board of the same organisation or public without giving room for effective engagement and unbiased assessment of PHC performance,” he said.
Onoka said that health system leaders and stakeholders needed to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks and create platforms that could enable them leverage available resources to achieve health system goals.
He called on state governments to create opportunities for stakeholders, including the private sector, to contribute to their health systems, particularly at the PHC level.
The expert said that the government must bridge the human resource gap by revising the training curriculum of health workers.
He said the government could also save money on capacity-building workshops for fresh graduates by incorporating the training content into the academic programmes curriculums.
Onoka said it was pertinent for government to build trust in the system as that would encourage more access to funds both domestically and externally.
He said there should be increased sustainable investments in the primary healthcare system with a focus on results.
onoka said there was also need to learn from past failures and best practices, and advised stakeholders to provide health system leaders with financial and technical resources they required to perform optimally.
Dr Sam Agbo, Senior Health Advisor, Foreign Commonwealth Development Office, Nigeria, said there was need for a clear definition of roles and responsibilities.
Agbo said National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) should consider acting more as a supervisory agency and focused less on programme implementation.
He said there was also need to improve coordination and synergy between State Ministries of Health and Primary HealthCare Development Agencies.
Agbo said Local Governments financial autonomy would empower them to take responsibility for organising PHC system while Federal and State governments provide the needed oversight and support.
He said professional organisations, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANAM), Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSON) and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria PSN) should be encouraged to drive accountability.
He said the people, who were foremost stakeholders in a PHC system, must know their rights, demand them, and hold leaders accountable.
“The people are responsible for applying basic health education principles.
“Countries like China, India, Pakistan, Rwanda, Mali, and Niger with high-performing primary healthcare systems all have a people-centred and driven system.
”NGOs and CSOs should be people-oriented and advocate for interventions that mitigate disparities and protect vulnerable groups,” he said.
Agbo said that private sector should be given enabling environment to support the government to deliver on its mandate of ensuring that PHC system was built on the pillars of appropriateness, acceptability, accessibility, availability and affordability.
He said that the activities of development partners must be aligned and harmonised with government plans and people’s needs.
Agbo said that aligning programmes of development partners with on-ground priorities, remained a crucial strategy to ensure that donors’ catalytic investments made a difference and had far-reaching sustainable impact.
He said that before the Alma Ata declaration on PHC in 1978, Nigeria had a functional village healthcare system that provided services to the people at the community level.
Agbo said that in spite the present challenges being experienced, PHC system could be revitalised if all stakeholders were committed, worked tirelessly, acknowledged health as a human right and made it a political priority.
He described health as a business with a great return-on-investments and should be seen as such.
According to Dr Emmanuel Okpetu, Head, PHC, Kuje Area Council, instead of directly implementing programmes, national and state government agencies should provide technical support and oversight for LGAs. “This will bridge gaps at the PHC level with contextually appropriate solutions as that would help the three tiers of government to collaborate more effectively,” he said.
Okpetu said that a clear distinction between implementation and oversight roles of different stakeholders were important.
He said that most oversight functions expected from national and state agencies had been overlooked because they paid more attention to programme implementation at the expense of the oversight functions.
Okpetu said the number, distribution, and quality of human resources in PHC system were suboptimal, adding that task-shifting and sharing were great strategy to bridge human resource gaps.
He said that government should expand the scope of task shifting and sharing beyond maternal health services to include other conditions like non-communicable diseases.
Okpetu called on the government to make necessary policy changes that would make it easier for people to get trained to take up roles in the PHC system.
“The system is in dire need of human resources to provide clinical, laboratory and surveillance services,” he said.
Okpetu said that government should go beyond personnel recruitment and redistribution to ensure that appropriate incentives were in place to motivate PHC workforce and encourage personnel retention.
He said that community health extension workers were not motivated with ceilings which limit their career advancement.
“Incentives to be provided include career advancement opportunities and government-sponsored training with signed agreements for trained health workers to work for a specified time frame within the system or repay the cost of training,” he said.
Okpetu said there was need to allocate resources to carefully selected and clearly defined priorities.
He said that donors and development partners should avoid duplication of efforts and build trust with local stakeholders and focus on addressing real challenges within the health system based on priorities identified by the government.
Okpetu advised all tiers of government to consider innovative strategies to improve health system efficiency.
He added that governments could contract private sector to run non-performing PHC facilities and institute a pay-for-performance remuneration and financing system.
Dr Uju Onyes, a Health Policy and Financing expert, said there was need to reduce fragmentation in the health governance structure.
Onyes said the challenges of fragmentation was further complicated by absence of clear roles, responsibilities and accountability systems for PHC’s stakeholders and institutions.
She said that the deplorable state of PHC system and failed projects were due to poor accountability mechanisms in all tiers of government.
The expert said that stakeholders must work in synergy and deliver on their mandates as their collective action would strengthen the PHC system and make it resilient.
Onyes said although financial resources within national PHC system were inadequate, the inefficiency in resource utilisation was a challenge.
She said that governments and stakeholders should work towards revitalising the system as investments in PHC were cost-effective and would help Nigeria inch closer to UHC.