Prof. Hyacinth Ichoku, Vice Chancellor of Veritas University, Abuja, has recommended efficient deployment of health resources as a sure step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Ichoku stated this in his keynote address to the third Annual Legislative Summit on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), on Thursday in Abuja.
The Nigeria News Agency, reports that the theme of the summit is “Efficiency and Effectiveness in Nigeria’s Health Sector and the Role of Legislators in a Decentralised Democracy.”
The vice chancellor said, nations, no matter how rich, could not attain UHC without efficient health budgets.
“The concept of efficiency in the health sector is grounded in the fact that resources are scarce and have alternative use.
“Resources are contestable: allocations to competing sectors must be on the basis of evidence of greater efficiency and returns on investment,” he said.
He described the effective, result oriented use of resources in a sector like health as “allocative efficiency.”
The VC said that Nigeria’s expenditure on health was low and indicative of low priority on the sector.
“Allocative Efficiency is the ability of a production system like the health system to produce goods and services according to the preferences of the society.
“Governments across the globe face the same budgetary constraints; the sectors that make higher returns to society will be given priority in resource allocation.
“One measure of the increasing global recognition of the investment value on health is the increasing national and global resources being allocated to it.
“Total spending on health rose from 6.5 trillion dollars in 2013 to 7.5 trillion dollars in 2016, representing about 10 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product, (GDP).
Ichoku explained that America and other developed countries spend about 17.5 per cent of their annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health.
“Developed countries like America, France, Germany, Japan and Canada spend 10 per cent of their annual income on health.
“African countries like Namibia, Burkina Faso and Uganda spend six per cent of their GDP on health; while other countries like Ethiopia, Mali and Nigeria, with heavy disease burden, spend four per cent.
“This indicates low priority on health,” he explained.
Ichoku said that health was integral to economic growth of a country, noting that poor health could be the cause of poverty in some societies.
“Health is not just about the intrinsic well being of the individual, it is a fundamental economic factor in productivity and growth of the economy.
“Poor health underpins household poverty, poor school performance and ensures inter-generational poverty,” he said.
Edited by Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
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