Decentralise primary healthcare to achieve UHC, FG tasked

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Ensuring that Nigeria attains Universal Health Coverage, UHC, healthcare providers have called for  decentralisation of  primary healthcare in the country even as they maintained that effective health financing remains key to achieving access to care for all Nigerians. Delivering a keynote address at the Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Healthcare Providers’ Association of Nigeria in Lagos, CEO, Crown Surgery and Medical Service, Lagos, Dr Ebun Sonaiya said decentralising primary healthcare system would guarantee Nigerians at the grassroots  access to health care.

Primary Healthcare Centre,  Sonaiya said: “Why centralise everything?  Everything comes from Abuja. There is the need to decentralise primary healthcare.   How can we have primary healthcare agency residing in Abuja? It is called primary and that means it is for the grassroots and all the money for it must go to the grassroots.

“That will provide access to health from the very low to the top. That will ensure that our children have access to immunisation whether rich or poor, that will ensure our women have access, rich or poor.  The children will be raised in good health and UHC is essential to development. The states should work with the Federal Government and the heads of local governments.

“A strong and efficient health system that is people-centred, as well as a public-private partnership, is needed to achieving the UHC. More services must, therefore, be included in the UHC such as HIV, TB, malaria, mental health, etc.,” he stated. Corroborating his views, the National President of the association, Dr Umar Sanda said: “There is need to decentralise it from the federal down to the state, local government and community level to facilitate faster the attainment of UHC. At the event entitled: “Awakening Health Insurance in Nigeria to Achieving Universal Health Coverage”, Sanda  noted that the theme was chosen following the turbulence in the progress of the health insurance scheme in Nigeria.

“We have many hurdles to cross, but they are surmountable. Nigeria’s population is growing, but our health indices are bad. The budget allocation for health by the Federal Government and the states is not encouraging. Many smaller African countries are overtaking Nigeria in achieving UHC.” Noting that UHC was right of all Nigerians, he said it means good quality health, timely, acceptable, affordable and appropriate. He appealed to the Federal Government to find a solution to the slow pace of progression of health insurance in Nigeria.

“A well-designed healthcare insurance scheme will facilitate fair financing of healthcare cost, pooling and judicious utilisation, risk protection and cost burden sharing for people against the high cost of healthcare and this will be through the institution of appropriate and adequate prepaid mechanism prior to ill health of an individual,” he said.

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