Stakeholders in the health sector are to meet in Abuja on Wednesday, Nov. 13, to fashion out ways toward achieving Universal Health Coverage(UHC), in the country, according to Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health.
Oloriegbe told newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja that the three-day summit would examine the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) which is key to achieving UHC in Nigeria.
The Nigeria News Agency , reports that President Muhammadu Buhari appropriated N55.1 billion, which is one per cent of Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), to cater for the BHCPF in fulfillment of the National Health Act, 2014, in 2018.
Already, 50 per cent of the money for 2018 has been released, with the Federal Ministry of Health saying recently that it was hopeful of a hundred per cent release.
International partners such as the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID are also contributing to the Fund. The brand name for this Programme is ‘HUWE’ meaning life.
According to Oloriegbe, the summit will deepen the understanding of the legislators on the concept of UHC and their roles towards achieving it.
The chairman said that the summit would map out the role of lawmakers towards the implementation of BHCPF, within the context of the National Health Act ,(NHA), 2014.
He said that it would also appraise the progress of implementation of the communique of the second Annual Legislative Summit.
Oloriegbe said that the summit would reach a consensus on the Strategic Framework for the National Legislative Health Agenda to guide the activities of the legislators for the next four years, and prioritise activities for Year 2020.
He, however, added that the summit would deliver a consensus built on Strategic Framework for the National Legislative Health Agenda, focusing on efficiency and effectiveness.
“The summit will map out a work plan for year 2020 and set a path to guide the legislators,” he said.
NAN reports that Dr Emmanuel Meribole, Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistics, recently said that 34 states had so far committed to participating in the BHCPF since Buhari rolled out in February.
According to Meribole, the implementation of BHCPF in the country has progressed steadily over the past six months.
“Already, 33 states and the FCT have shown commitment; but only 21 states have made their financial contributions of N100 million each, to support implementation of BHCPF in their states,” he said.
The director said that only 24 states and the FCT had opened sub-accounts in the Treasury Single Account (TSA), for their agencies at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Out of the 33 states and the FCT, 20 have concluded all processes required to access their accounts. Already, 22 states have received funds from either the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), or National Health Insurance Scheme,” he said.
Edited by Ephraims Sheyin
Reps Health related C’ttees, WHO partner on medical improvement
The resolution was reached at meeting of the chairmen of the committees with the incoming Country Rep of WHO, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo on Wednesday in Abuja.
Earlier, Mulombo expresses pleasure to meet with the lawmakers as he assumed duty in Nigeria as the WHO representative.
He said “Nigeria is a big country and serving as a legislator in a country like this, is a rare privilege”.
Mulombo said that as chairmen of Health committees, the lawmakers were further called to higher service to humanity.
“You are expected to use your functions of legislation, appropriation, representation and oversight to impact the health of Nigerians majority of whom are poor and vulnerable.
“I have heard of the tremendous support you are already providing to the health sector, including appropriation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund and ongoing review of many health laws such as the National Health Insurance, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, National Cancer and National Blood Transfusion Bills.
“The WHO in Nigeria has prioritised actions that are aligned to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the National Health Act (NHAct 2014) and the 2nd National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSI–IDP II) to contribute towards achievement of our global Triple Billion Goal.
“One key area of focus is catalyzing and mobilising political actors towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through policy dialogues and high-Ievel political engagements.
Mulombo said that the WHO is open to further collaboration with the lawmakers in extending the good practice from the Legislative Network for UHC in Nigeria and to other African countries through WHO regional office.
According to him, as partners in the health sector, it will be useful to continue to co-create innovative ways to ensure that together we promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.
Responding, the Chairman, House Committee on Primary Health Care, Rep. Yusuf Tanko Sununu (APC-Kebbi), said that the house maintained a healthy relationship outgoing country representative, saying that similar thing will be extended Mulombo.
Sununu said that in 1948 when WHO was constituted, it had the mandate of ensuring that each and every individual attain the highest level of health.
According to the lawmaker, a lot of progress has been made in that regard but we are far from achieving that mandate.
“I want to also thank WHO for your effort in the fight against Covid-19.
“You have supported us in the overall fight towards the curtailment of the effect of Covid-19.
“However, we want to call on WHO to always remember that principles of ethics, especially now that we are moving towards both national and international clinical trials is to ensure that the principle of justice in medical researches is attained.
“By justice, it means all human beings are equal and the benefit of that research is translated to all so that there is no segment of the world that will be used as a scape goat in trying to achieve something.
“This is the only way we can see that WHO has been fair in this fight against Covid-19 and ensure that each individual reach his height,” he said
Sununu pledged to cooperate with the WHO and to work together in trying to ractify all conventions transmitted to committees to move this country forward.
“We are going to have a public hearing to look the primary health care system in Nigeria so that we can facilitate formulation of policies and to further unite the mandate of the National Programme on Immunisation and the National Primary Health Care to facilitate the legal framework for their operations.
“Nigeria is facing lot of non communicable diseases and cancer has become an issue and we need a data base to be able to address the issue of cancer especially now that resources is going down.
“So we must focus on prevention rather than cure,” he said.
Edited By: Kayode Olaitan (NAN)
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)
Renaming Abuja Stadium after Abiola will rub off on sport development — Oramah
A leading sports administrator, Mr Ifeanyi Oramah, has said that the recent unveiling of Abuja National Stadium as MKO Abiola Stadium would spur more Nigerians to help develop the country’s sports infrastructure.
In a statement on Monday, Oramah commended President Muhammadu Buhari for renaming Abuja National Stadium after late Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election.
Oramah, Chief Executive of Oramah Sports Academy, said President Buhari’s gesture was beyond politics and had reignited unusual interests in sports infrastructural development among benevolent Nigerians.
“With this progress, I see Nigeria returning to our glorious years in sports where we had upwardly mobile Nigerians like the late Chief MKO Abiola nurturing to success, great clubs and investing heavily in sports development.
“It is a natural thing that when people know that their legacies would be nurtured even in death, they would not think twice to venture into promoting whatever they believe in and evolve legacies and infrastructure that would outlive them,” said Oramah.
He also commended Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, Musa Bello as well as Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, for their undaunted efforts toward the realization of the renaming.
According to him, the sports minister has exhibited uncommon brilliance, quality leadership and humanity in the discharge of his duties
Oramah called for revival of grassroots and school sports in order discover new talents and regain Nigeria’s lost sporting glory.
“In the past, youth sports events, including inter house sports, produced budding athletes who later grew into top sports men and women.
“What happened to the Head masters’ Cup, Principal Cup, The Academicals a.k.a Acada Cup, the Nigeria university Games (NUGA), to name but a few.
“These were competitions that exposed young talents which the country had harnessed in the past for sports laurels such as the Under 17 World Cup, Atlanta ’94 and the Olympics etc,” Orama said.
He noted that most of the players were products of local age grade football competitions and urged government to create the environment for private sector participation in sports development.
“Sport is serious business and should not be left only in the hands of government,” he said.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
COVID -19: Naira Marley Abuja concert generates criticism on social media
Nigerians have criticised the “Drive in Concert,” hosted by Nigerian Singer, Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, on Saturday in Abuja.
The Drive In concert, organised by Play Network Africa, took place at the Jabi Lake Mall car park, Abuja, from 4pm- 9pm with over 100 FCT residents in attendance to watch Naira Marley as he performed on stage.
The organisers of the event had initially announced on Instagram (IG) @playnetworkafr, that it was hosting a 100 car capacity event with a maximum of four persons in a car.
However, the event took a turn, when the Mafo Crooner, started performing and party lovers stepped out of their cars to party and take videos, pictures.
NAN reports that Naira Marley, also known as the president of his controversial fan base, “Marlians”.
Nigerians had however, gone on several Social media outlets to express their dissatisfaction on the turn of events, stating how the FG violation by the party attendees could be a threat to other innocent Nigerians who did not attend the event, in relation to the pandemic.
Here are some comments concerned Nigerians left on Instagram and Twitter.
On IG, responding to a post of the concert by the popular @instablog9ja,@datenaija1 said: “It was supposed to be a park in concert. They were supposed to remain in their car. Everything was going fine until Naira Marley stepped to the stage and unfortunately Marlians don’t have manners.
@mzadapearl said: “Naira Marley and rule breaking is like 5 and 6.
@sylvastores said: “I guess we have gotten to the stage where we say may the best immune system win.
On Twitter, @NaijaViralz said: “Despite the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases, singer, Naira Marley performed on stage at a concert with massive attendance by other ‘COVIDIOTS’ in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.
@E-zrael Ani said “They restricted inter-state travels yet Naira Marley still round a way to teleport himsef and his team from Lagos to Abuja.
@Instablog9ja said: “So Naira Marley has a concert in Abuja in the middle of a pandemic and the place was packed full of people. Do people not care about their lives or they don’t believe COVID -19 is real?.
NAN also reports that in attendance with Naira Marley from Lagos was Chinonso Opara A.K.A Kim Oprah, Ex-BBNaija housemate as he had shared on his IG page @nairamarley, a video of when he, Kim Oprah and his crew landed Abuja.
#Nairamarley for the past 3 hours, trended on Twitter, as number one with so many people commenting about the controversial concert.
Those who were unable to get tickets to the venue as all tickets were sold out on Nairabox, stared at the stage from the top car park of the mall for free and partied alongside those who had access to the stage.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)