The four-day workshop in Abuja for 18 states of the federation with the theme “Strengthening Health Financing at the Frontlines” will help to provide indepth assessment of different health financing mechanisms in the states.
Dr Emmanuel Meribole, the Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistics, made this known in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Thursday on the sideline of the workshop, organised by Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).
Meribole said that the workshop would also work out ways to support the states health financing arrangement at the sub national level.
The director said that various attempts to examine health financing mechanisms in Nigeria revealed that there was no single mechanism that fits all contexts and people.
He said it was important for stakeholders to understand the current status of health financing in the country, especially in comparison to national, regional and global goals.
He explained that health financing was one of the building blocks of health system, which level of functionality had direct effect on the overall functioning of the system.
He added that “a major weakness of the country’s health system is the poor functioning of the health financing building block.
“It is characterised by low public spending, very high levels of out-pocket spending, high incidence of catastrophic health spending and impoverishment due to the spending.”
According to him, this knowledge will be invaluable in shaping Nigeria’s policy and programmatic choices that can improve health financing and accelerate the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.
He noted that opportunities abound for the country to increase coverage with social health insurance and other financial risk protection mechanisms to substantially improve the functioning of the health system with healthy citizens.
The director said that the 18 states present at the workshop were the second batch that the ministry would be engaging on the reform efforts.
He added that the efforts were aimed at providing successful implementation blueprint for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and aligning leadership and support to all states.
Meribole said that the workshop would access designed policies that were responsive to states’ needs, implement effective capacity development programmes, ensure necessary budgetary allocations, and provide overall guidance and oversight.
He said that the workshop would sensitise state governments on the need to support their efforts to strengthen their Primary Health Care (PHC) systems and improve their finances for health.
“Understanding the effectiveness of different health financing mechanisms and the modifications in their functions that are needed to ensure improvements in financial risk protection are important.
“It is also useful to understand the bottlenecks that constrain the implementation of financing mechanisms such as social health insurance that can ensure financial risk protection to most Nigerians.
“These will help to significantly increase the level of financial risk protection in Nigeria, in line with the requirement for achieving UHC,” he said.
Meribole noted that the National Health Act (NHA) of 2014 presents a valuable opportunity to fast track progress toward UHC.
The director said “multiple state governments have either passed, or are in the final stages of passing State Sponsored Health Insurance Bills (SSHIS).
“The SSHIS will provide financial risk protection and access to quality care for residents,” he assured.
He said that states had also started implementing the Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) policy.
He noted that “the policy aims to integrate all PHC structures and programmes at sub-national levels, under one state level body, and in the process, improve the implementation of the BHCPF through PHCs.”
NAN reports that the 18 states attending the workshop are; Akwa Ibom, Borno, Kebbi, Nassarawa, Cross River Enugu, Gombe, Taraba, Imo, Kogi, Yobe, Zamfara, Lagos, Jigawa, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, and Sokoto states.
The workshop is also being attended by stakeholders in the health sector to develop common understanding of major health financing constraints in the country.
Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)