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Achieving universal health coverage requires gender equity, strengthening healthcare workers, says Saraki



The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, an NGO founded by Mrs Toyin Saraki,  says achieving universal health coverage will require stakeholders to drive change for gender equity and strengthening healthcare workers.

Saraki made the assertion in a press statement on Monday ahead of the 72nd World Health Assembly which would  hold  in Geneva, Switzerland between May 20 and May 28.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The assembly determines the policies of the WHO, supervising financial policies, as well as reviews and approves its programmes’ budgets.

The WHO had defined universal health coverage as:   “ensuring that all people have access to needed health services (including prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation) of sufficient quality.

“It added that it should be effective while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user the financial hardship.”

Saraki said: “It is auspicious that my first engagement at the World Health Assembly this year is to celebrate ‘heroines of health’ alongside Women in Global Health, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic Foundation.

“Women make up 70 per cent of the global health workforce but are underrepresented in positions of leadership.

“If we are to achieve universal health coverage and leave no one behind by 2030, we must drive change for gender equity and strengthen healthcare workers.”

She said that women and newborns were the most vulnerable in humanitarian and fragile settings.

According to her, quality midwifery education saves lives by preparing healthcare workers for emergency health situations.

“Investing in the health and social workforce is critical to the attainment of the health aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Also, I look forward to working with the WHO, global partners and frontline healthcare workers to make that a reality,” Saraki said.

NAN also reports that Saraki would speak at high-level events throughout the week, alongside the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus and the First Lady of the Republic of Turkey, Mrs Emine Erdogan.

They would be focusing on aligning women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing in humanitarian and fragile settings and frontline healthcare workers.


Sokoto Govt. releases N6m for free treatment of indigent patients



The Sokoto State Government on Friday disbursed N6 million to 12 health facilities it engaged to offer free treatment to indigent patients in the state.

Chairman, Zakkat and Endowment Commission, Malam Muhammad Maidoki, disbursed the money in Sokoto to the special committees set up by government to manage the grant.

“Today like all other months, we are disbursing the sum of N6 million to our various partners for the treatment of needy patients across the state.

“As such, I want urge our partners in the hospitals and pharmaceutical shops committees to remain committed in ensuring proper utilisation of the funds allocated to them,” he said.

Maidoki appealed to wealthy individuals and organisations to complement government effort in bringing succour to the needy, especially those requiring urgent medical care.

He commended Gov. Aminu Tambuwal for sustaining the free healthcare initiative and urged the committees to utilise the money judiciously.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Kware Psychiatric Hospital and Usman Danfodio University Teaching Hospital got N1 million each, while Specialist Hospital Sokoto and Wamakko Orthopedic Hospital received N500,000 each.

Maryam Abacha Hospital, Iman Hospital and W.C.W.C Hospital committees got N300,000 each, while Binji and Zumunci pharmacies committees each received N500,000.

Other beneficiaries include the committees for Rauda and Iman pharmacies, N400,000, and Maigobir pharmacy, N300,000.

Edited by Maharazu Ahmed

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2020 Budget: Ganduje proposes N30bn for health sector – Commissioner



The Kano State Government has allocated over N30 billion to the health sector in its 2020 budget proposal presented recently to the State House of Assembly for approval.

The state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim-Tsanyawa told newsmen after he appeared before the Assembly to defend the proposed budget estimate for the sector.

He said that the proposed budget for the ministry represents 15 per cent of the over N197 billion proposed for the state by Gov.Ganduje.

According to him, out of the proposed budget, the State government plans to upgrade four general hospitals to the status of specialist hospitals cross the recently established four Emirates.

He explained that the emirates recently established are: Gaya, Bichi, Karaye and Rano, adding that the plan is to reduce the challenges of coming to the city hospitals to see a specialist.

Ibrahim-Tsanyawa said that upgrading the four hospitals would also assist in decongesting the specialist hospitals in the town as well as encourage the doctors to work effectively.

He said that the hospitals would be upgraded to a high standard with modern facilities to accommodate about 400 patients at a time.

“In the next coming year (2020), we are setting aside part of our budget to ensure that all our health facilities across the 44 Local Government Areas are working effectively,” the Commissioner said.

Edited by Jane-Frances Oraka/Tukur Muntari.

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Lack of budget lines in MDAs undermining fight against malnutrition in Kaduna state –CSO



The Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) says the absence of budget lines in nutrition related Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are undermining ongoing fight against malnutrition in Kaduna State.

Mr Sunday Okoronkwo, CS-SUNN’s Project Manager told the Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Zaria, that nutrition is a multisectoral issue that requires a multi-sectoral approach.

Okoronkwo said that the National Policy on Food and Nutrition as domesticated by the Kaduna state government has specified a role for each MDA under the State Committee on Food and Nutrition.

He commended the state government for developing a Multi-sectoral Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (KDMSPAN), 2020-2024, that sets out nutrition specific (curative) and nutrition sensitive (preventive) interventions with measurable targets.

The CS-SUNN’s Project Manager said that each sector has key activities and contributions to make in the implementation of the high impact; low cost interventions that would reduce and eventually eradicate malnutrition in the state.

Okoronkwo stressed the need for nutrition budget lines for relevant MDAs like heath, education, agriculture and human services among others to successfully implement interventions specified in the policy and plans.

According to him, it is nearly impossible to address malnutrition in the state without nutrition budget lines in these critical MDAs.

“Each of the MDAs need to have a budget line that will enable them allocate adequate resources in their annual budget to enable them implement their mandate as stipulated in the policy and the plan.

“What we currently have in the state is a situation where nutrition budget line is domiciled in Planning and Budget Commission. This poses a serious challenge in accessing and utilising the fund.

“The ideal thing to do, in line with global best practices, is for the line MDAs to have a plan, budget for it and seek release of the fund to undertake planned activities to meet their annual targets.

“Otherwise, what is the sense of having plans that you will not budget for annually? It is not only about creating plans, but also allocating resources to implement to address the target challenges.”

Similarly, CS-SUNN Coordinator in the state, Mr Silas Ideva, appealed to the state government to consider creating a budget lines for nutrition line MDAs to avoid gap in the implementation of the KDMSPAN.

“Beyond creation of budget lines, we also want timely release of the funds to enable the MDAs implement their interventions and programmes,” Ideva told NAN.

On his part, Malam Isa Ibrahim, Nutrition Advocacy Advisor, Save the Children International, expressed disappointed over the state’s reluctance to create budget lines in relevant MDAs for nutrition intervention.

Ibrahim pointed out that nutrition partners in the state had carried out series of advocacy visits to all line MDAs to push for the creation of budget lines.

He said: “to our disappointment, some of the budget lines created in the 2020 draft budget were removed from the final draft submitted to the state’s House of Assembly.

“The budget is the basic source and the foundation of planning and executing plans and programmes, but Kaduna state is not really making much progress in terms of allocating resources to key MDAs.

“It is not too late. We are still appealing to the state government and the House of Assembly to reconsider recreating budget relevant MDAs before the 2020 budget is passed into law.

“Also, most of the funds allocated in 2019 budget were not cash backed and many children under five years in the state are dying while more are becoming malnourished.

“This is because of the law investment in financial and human resource to provide nutrition services,” he told NAN.

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/ Tukur Muntari.

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Family Planning: Stakeholders call for more consumables in Ibadan communities



Mrs Funmilayo Abodunrin, the Head of Facility, Apete Primary Health Centre and

Family Planning Coordinator for Ido Local Government Area, Oyo State, urged government to provide more consumables

to address access to family planning commodities in communities in the state.

Abodunrin made the call in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Friday when the leadership

of the centre went on field trip as part of a media training on Women’s Sexual Reproductive Health Rights organised by

Marie Stopes Nigeria, an NGO in Ibadan.

NAN reports that Marie Stopes, an international NGO which focuses on contraceptives, sensitised nursing mothers and married couples

at the centre on the benefits of family planning.

The sensitisation lecture started with dance and music performance in Yoruba language on the importance of family planning

to the mother, to the family and the society at large.

According to the facility head, the centre needs more consumables to cater for the needs of its clients, as more people now respond

to the call for family planning in the communities.

She said “the family planning method commonly used by women here is the implant, instead of the injectables.

“Government is responding to the provision of medical consumables now than before, but we need more because supply cannot go round.

“Our partner, Marie Stopes, has been very supportive and supplies us with consumables to assist.”

She added that the centre recorded an influx of women for counselling and services on appropriate

family planning methods suitable for them, as well as challenges that might come with usage of the different methods.

She explained that “before Marie Stopes came here, the turnout was not as much as after training, but because of

the mobilisation, we created demand for family planning commodities

“We now have close to 200 or more clients for family planning methods in one month.

“We also get close to 100 new clients that want to access family planning methods and close to 100 revisits.”

She said that the response rate was encouraging, as people from other communities also patronise the various family planning methods they could get from the centre.

Similarly, Mrs Hannah Osoko, the Head, Christ Hope Hospital and Maternity, Osoko, said that the encouraging turnout was an indication

that women could now make informed choices about their reproductive health lives.

Osoko said that the health facility and other members of the community had carried out campaigns in markets to

encourage the use of contraceptives.

She said “we normally mobilise women and educate them on the need to go for family planning.

“And with the health education, the women are now better informed.”

She listed pills, implants, IUCD, vasectomy and female sterilisation- tubal ligation as the various methods of family planning provided.

Hafsatu Bello, a member of the community, said family planning had helped her to pursue her education without fear of getting pregnant.

Also, Ajoke Osinowo, a community mobiliser, said she was an advocate of family planning and encouraged her family and friends to enjoy

the benefits of the various methods.

On his part, Mr Emmanuel Ajah, the Director, Programme Operations, Marie Stopes, said the visit was to enable the media to

have first-hand information about the activities of the organisation, particularly its support on sexual reproductive health to communities in the country.

Ajah said that the NGO was trying to encourage more women to embrace the use of implants as family planning method, which he said had

less side effects and more tolerable to the body.

He reiterated the commitment of the NGO toward helping women to access modern contraceptives, particularly in rural areas,

which he said would enhance national development. ( NAN)

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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State health insurance agencies target 50% coverage in 5 years



Dr Niyi Oginni, the Chairman, Forum of CEOs, State Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria,

says state governments are targeting to achieve 50 per cent enrollment into health insurance schemes in the next five years.

Oginni told Nigeria News Agency on Friday, on the sideline of the 3rd annual edition of Legislative Summit on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Abuja.

According to him, the eight states implementing the scheme have so far enrolled 1.1 million within a year, representing 0.61 per cent.

He said the agencies that started within a year in eight states had already started providing services to those who enrolled.

He added that “by the time the 36 states of the federation enroll all residents into states’ health insurance schemes, a great percentage of

health coverage would be achieved and within five years, we would be able to achieve 50 per cent coverage.”

The official said that the template for the enrollment would soon be domesticated in states.

Oginni, who earlier spoke on ”Health Insurance Decentralisation’’ during technical session on “Strategic Framework for UHC in Nigeria” at the legislative

summit, said that the journey to decentralise health insurance started in 2014.

He added that the National Assembly committees on health, development partners, civil society organisations and professional associations

in the health sector achieved the drafting of the National Health Act, passed into law and assented to in 2014.

He explained that “the key achievement in the reform is the establishment of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

“BHCPF is to comprise not less than one per cent of Federal Government revenues in addition to donor contributions and funds from philanthropists.’’

According to him, BHCPF is an intervention fund, a panacea to fund the health financing deficit in Nigeria and the principal funding vehicle for the Basic

Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS)

“So far, the single most important social security that can support Nigeria’s aspiration to achieve UHC providing coverage for the vulnerable.

“The purpose of the fund is to increase the fiscal space and overall financing to the health sector to assist Nigeria achieve UHC.”

The chairman said that the National Council on Health adopted the memorandum on implementation of State-Supported Health Insurance

Scheme (SSHI) in March 2015.

He noted that key resolutions from the council included: “health insurance must be mandatory for all; SSHIS should create a budget line to

cover those who cannot afford to pay premiums under an equity fund.

“Also, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) will develop a model legal template to be partly or wholly adapted by states.

“State laws must align with NHIS Act and the National Health Act 2014 should facilitate collaboration and composition of SSHIS boards to

include stakeholders such as NHIS, civil society.”

Oginni, who is the Executive Secretary, Osun State Health Insurance Agency, however, made some recommendations to achieving efficiency in

the implementation of SSHIS in Nigeria.

The recommendations are that NHIS should be proactive in its responsibility of providing technical support and capacity building for SSHIS.

“There is an urgent need for NHIS to convene the ICT summit for UHC.

“There is urgent need for the National Secretariat of the BHCPF to review its implementation to allow seamless alignment with SSHIS and the original purpose.

Edited by Shittu Obassa/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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PCN seals off 577 pharmacies, patent medicine shops in Anambra



The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has sealed off 96 pharmacies and 481 patent medicine shops totalling 577 medicine premises in Anambra for various offences.

The PCN’s Director, Inspection and Monitoring, Mrs Anthonia Aruya, made this known in Awka on Friday while addressing newsmen on the council’s efforts at sanitising the sector in the state.

Aruya said that a total of 779 medicine premises were visited after which 19 of them were issued compliance directives for various offences.

According to her, the offences range from poor handling of controlled substances, sale and dispensing of prescription drugs without the supervision of a pharmacist as well as unhygienic environment and poor documentation.

“The enforcement was in fulfilment of its mandate as stated in PCN Act, Cap P17, LFN, 2004 and also in line with the National Drug Distribution Guide of the Federal Government.

“The activities are geared at streamlining the drug distribution value chain to promote safe, effective and quality medicine distribution along registered and licensed premises.

“Pharmacies that opened at will without recourse to the Council cannot be guaranteed to have standards that will maintain the integrity of the products within such facilities, ‘’ she said.

Aruya said that the council and other regulatory agencies were working to relocate all open drug markets to coordinated wholesale centres for proper regulation.

The director advised the public to always seek registration status of facilities where they access medicines to safeguard themselves from patronising quacks.

Edited by Adeleye Ajayi

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