The World Bank Group, says prepayment system is key to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.
Dr Christoph Kurowski, Global Lead for Health Financing, World Bank Group, said this at a four-day workshop with the theme: “Strengthening Health Financing at the Frontlines’’ in Abuja on Wednesday.
The workshop was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) for 18 states to support health financing arrangement at the sub-national level.
Kurowski said that prepayments would allow funds to be pooled and redistributed to reduce financial barriers for those who needed to use the services they could not afford.
According to him, this spreads the financial risks of ill-health across all stakeholders.
He suggested that prepayment could be derived from taxation, other government charges or health insurance from a mixture of sources.
According to him, such financial risk protection is an instrument of social protection applied to health.
“It works alongside other social protection mechanisms like unemployment and sickness benefits, pensions, child support, housing assistance, job-creation schemes, agricultural insurance and others, which have indirect consequences for health.’’
Kurowski said that government alone would not be able to raise sufficient funds to eliminate excess out-of pocket expenditures for all health services that Nigerians need, adding this was why prepayment arrangements at the sub national level must be encouraged.
According to him, It is therefore a challenge to decide how best to support health within budgetary limits.
He said that the first challenge in moving toward UHC was to define the services and supporting policies needed in any setting, including financial risk protection, the population that needs to use these services, and the cost.
Kurowski said that it required an understanding of the causes of ill-health, the possible interventions, who currently had access to these services and who do not, and the extent of financial hardship incurred by paying out-of-pocket.
He noted that acting on behalf of their populations, governments must decide how to move closer to universal coverage with limited financial resources.
NAN reports that the 19 participating states in the second batch of the health financing workshop are, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Kwara , Enugu, Gombe, Taraba, Imo, Kogi, Yobe, Zamfara, Lagos, Jigawa, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, and Sokoto states.
The workshop is being attended by stakeholders in the health sector.
Edited by Ese E. Ekama
Expert says COVID-19 provides Nigeria opportunity to invest, improve health sector financing
He said that for over a decade Nigeria had invested less than five per cent of its annual budget to the health sector.
The financial expert said that with improved health sector financing, strengthening accountability mechanisms and public-private partnerships, Nigeria would be better prepared for future emergencies.
“Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with an avenue to evaluate the way we have been doing things.
”It has also provided us with an opportunity to re-assess the government’s preparedness to address future pandemics,” he said.
Eziukwu said it was imperative that health policymakers took advantage of the pandemic to improve health financing mechanisms, correlation between health and economic growth and increased attention to disease prevention.
He said larger impact of the pandemic could be broadly grouped a national health emergency.
He said that this was because of its rate of spread and the diversion of human and financial resources from other critical health challenges such as Ebola, Malaria and .
Eziukwu said that coronavirus could overwhelm the health system in little time as was currently the case in Nigeria and other affected countries.
He further said that the neglect of other health challenges could lead to loss of already gained grounds in the fight against them.
He said that the economic challenge presented by the pandemic could be quite devastating particularly for emerging economies in Africa.
“However, the continent can be said to be worst hit considering other factors.
“One key factor is the mono-primary commodity export in most African countries, of which price falls will lead to a great loss of income in these countries.
“Another factor is the dominant informal sector in the economies.
“Contrary to what is obtainable in Western economies, African economies are still very nascent with the majority of its citizens operating in the informal sectors,” he said.
Eziukwu, said that the approach of locking down the economy had caused hardship to many citizens, adding that the limited fiscal policy had also contributed to the hardship the citizens were experiencing.
“Many African countries have high debt to revenue ratios, of which a reduction in commodity prices will be unable to meet the basic operating and administrative costs.
“Also, there is limited health insurance in emerging economies which leads to high out-of-pocket health expenditure and these have further increased poverty rates,” he said.
Eziukwu said that some of the most hit areas of the economy during this pandemic were foreign reserves and currency values.
“Many emerging countries’ 12 months forward price is trading at approximately 50 per cent reduction when compared with the United States dollars and other currencies.
“It is reported that the Naira is currently trading at over N500 to a dollar in the foreign exchange market.
“This is an over 42 per cent reduction when compared with the currency’s trading average of N360 before the pandemic,” he said.
Eziukwu said that the epidemic preparedness and health sector funding models had also been seriously tested at this time.
He said that African countries that religiously followed the 2001 Abuja Accord were better positioned to withstand the economic impact of the pandemic.
The financial expert said that the countries that failed to meet the Abuja Accord target were more vulnerable as a result of the pandemic which was already over stretching frail health systems.
“This pandemic has provided a critical juncture for policymakers to review all possible approaches to better health financing.
”There is no better time to understand and agree that health is indeed wealth and should take precedence in all budgetary and financing decisions of the government.
“It is expected that going forward, there must be a convergence between the private sector, donor agencies and the government.
”This convergence will be important in addressing the weaknesses the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified,” he said.
Eziukwu said that in April, Nigeria’s Finance Minister had rolled out several interventions to address the pandemic.
He said that the interventions among other things included N500 billion intervention fund to build and maintain various primary health care facilities across the country.
“While this is a welcome development, an enabling environment should be created and sustained.
”This enabling environment is necessary to assist the private sector to further invest in the revamp and management of primary healthcare facilities across the country.
“Doing such will bring Nigeria closer to achieving universal health coverage (UHC),” he said.
Eziukwu said that investing in infrastructure only would not be sufficient to address the weaknesses in Nigeria’s health sector.
He said that there was a need to reduce the burden of care for basic ailments on secondary and tertiary health facilities by improving and sustaining PHCs.
The expert said that during a pandemic, improving micro and medium scale enterprise investments would have to be another approach for all Central Bank’s development finance investments.
He said that on March 27, CBN rolled out several interventions aimed at assisting businesses facing challenges as a result of the lockdown, which was welcome.
Eziukwu, however, othebserved that review of the requirements from the CBN revealed certain requirements that small-scale businesses would not be able to meet to access the funds.
To address this, he said, the CBN should lower the requirements for accessing the funds and target high-impact job-generating sectors during the lockdown and after.
Eziukwu, however, said that while this might have short term positive impact as a considerable amount of the funds would go into food purchases, in the long run, it might lead to inflation.
He said that targeted interventions should be critically encouraged at this point.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Late Sen. Osinowo displayed unwavering commitment to better Nigeria- Folarin
Sen. Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo Central) has described the death of Sen. Adebayo Osinowo (APC-Lagos East) as a loss of a patriot, who displayed unwavering commitment to a better Nigeria.
This is contained in a tribute he signed and made available to newsmen in Ibadan on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the late Sen. Osinowo died on Monday.
“Distinguished Sen. Osinowo was unwavering in his commitment to a better Nigeria. He made a huge difference in the lives of millions of people in Lagos East Senatorial district and Nigeria at large,” he said.
Folarin, a former Senate leader, recalled late Osinowo’s great impressions on him as regards religious tolerance, efficacy of prayers and service to humanity during the 2019 Hajj they performed together.
He said that Osinowo’s demise was a bitter pill for members of the 9th National Assembly, the people of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The sudden demise of my colleague and brother, Sen. Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo is, undoubtedly, a bitter pill for members of the 9th Assembly, the people of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and APC,” he said.
Folarin expressed his condolences to Osinowo’s family, the Nigerian Senate, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the good people of Lagos and Ogun States.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and associates worldwide as we grieve over the loss of such an extraordinary individual.
“I pray that in this difficult time, God give us the strength and courage to bear the irreplaceable loss.
“The wonderful memories of Sen. Osinowo’s unique personality will be celebrated by all for a very long time. May Allah grant him Al-Jannah Fridauz,” he said.
Edited Edith Bolokor/Adeleye Ajayi
Greek PM visits Israel for talks over economic ties, West Bank annexation
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived in Israel on Tuesday morning for a two-day visit over economic ties between the two countries and the Israeli planned annexation of the West Bank lands.
Mitsotakis is leading a delegation of senior officials, including six ministers and deputy ministers, and will hold government-to-government talks over the renewal of Israeli tourism to Greece, energy, and bilateral cooperation, according to Israeli officials.
The Greek prime minister is scheduled to hold two meetings with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Israeli prime minister’s office.
The Hebrew-language Ha’aretz newspaper reported that Netanyahu is expected to ask Mitsotakis to soften the EU’s reaction to his plan to annex the Jordan Valley, a portion of the West Bank that Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war.
Nigeria records 573 new COVID-19 cases, infections hits 16,658
Nigeria recorded 573 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of Infections to 16,658.
The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) announced this official Twitter handle.
It said that as at June 15, Nigeria recorded four deaths while no new state reported any case in the last 24 hours.
The NCDC said that Lagos reported the highest number of cases with 216 new cases and Rivers was second with 103 new infections.
“The 573 new cases are reported from 20 states, Lagos (216), Rivers (103), Oyo (68), Edo (40), Kano (21), Gombe (20),FCT (17), Delta (13), Plateau (12), Bauchi (12), Niger (10), Kebbi ((9) Ogun (8), Ondo (8), Abia (7), Nasarawa (5), Borno (1), Kwara (1), Benue (1), Anambra (1)
The NCDC said that till date, Nigeria has 10,885 active cases while 5,349, patients have been treated and discharged.
It added that Nigeria recorded 424 deaths in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The agency said that the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across states, calls for Nigerians to TakeResponsibility, especially with the use of masks, avoiving mass gatherings and hand Washing.
“The health of each of us depends on our collective action,“ it said.
The health agency disclosed that it got samples with fictitious names and fictitious addresses.
“We can only vouch for the results of the samples.
“There’s no reason whatsoever to doubt the reality of COVID-19 in Nigeria. In fact we believe there are more cases out there than we’ve found.
“Behind each of those numbers we announce daily are people. Four Governors have themselves announced they’ve been infected.
“We have to make it socially unacceptable to be seen outside the home without face masks.
“We must also discourage unnecessary mass gatherings,”NDDC said.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/ Sadiya Hamza (NAN)