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Tinubu unveils Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative

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President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday unveiled Nigeria’s Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative to ensure a more coordinated approach, and improvement in the health sector.

The president unveiled the initiative during the commemoration of the 2023 Universal Health Coverage Day and signing of the health renewal compact by the federal, state governments and development partners in the FCT.

Universal Health Coverage means access to affordable and quality health services without suffering financial hardships.

President Tinubu said his administration would

prioritize and improve Nigeria’s health sector through massive investments, and the allocation of increased funds to the sector in the proposed 2024 budget.

He said, “Delivering improved quality health is an underpinning factor in my promise of Renewed Hope to Nigerians. That hope is ignited here today with the support of all multilateral partners and agencies; health is back on the front burner.

”This occasion marks an opportunity for collective reflection and action as we recommit ourselves to the noble pursuit of health for all. The theme for this year ‘Health for All: Time for Action’ encapsulates the urgency and the determination with which we must approach this noble goal.”

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, said the launch of the initiative was a historic window of opportunity, and a call to action, to reform and implement the National Health System as provided for in the National Health Act.

He said, “The Sector-Wide Compact is based on our collective recognition that, health is one of the keys to human capital accumulation; and a healthy, economically productive population, growing at a sustainable pace, supported by a health system that caters for all, and is essential to Nigeria’s socioeconomic development.

“By signing the compact, we are agreeing to align our objectives with the priorities articulated in the Renewed Hope Health Sector Blueprint’s pillars to improve governance, accountability to our citizens, focus on reversing high maternal, newborn, and child diseases and deaths, unlocking the health care value chain through state-directed medical industrialization in partnership with the private sector, and enhancing Nigeria’s resilience and health security.”

The minister said specifically that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) would be redesigned, ensure more equitable, allocation of resources to the poorest and most disadvantaged populations, and also mobilize additional development partners, financial resources to a common pool or aligned in parallel with the sector-wide approach.

He said at least $2.5 billion in pooled and unpooled financing in the period 2024-2026, is expected to be mobilized and channeled to improve the primary health system and achieve results.

He said the 8,809 fully functional Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) is expected to gradually increase to 17,618 PHCs by 2027 in all 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT).

He said the federal government would move Nigeria closer towards achieving Universal Health Coverage by gradually expanding health insurance coverage, ensuring healthy and viable risk pools, through more effective.

While saying that government would retrain up to 120,000 frontline health workers and increase the production of health workers by increasing the annual quota of training institutions, he called on countries benefitting from the “Japa” syndrome to reciprocate by investing in more training of health workers in Nigeria.

Prof. Pate said the federal government plans to establish a mechanism for the pooled procurement of critical pharmaceuticals in 2024 saying the initiative aims to lower costs and guarantee quality, making life-saving medications more affordable for the poorest Nigerians.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Kwara State Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq said the signing of a compact between the federal and state governments on health sector renewal is a significant step in the resolve to take action towards attaining the Universal Health Coverage .

He said the NGF acknowledges that true measure of commitment lies in actions, adding that the forum would collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that the provisions of the compact are translated into practical and measurable actions.

He said the NGF Secretariat would provide robust support in tracking and implementing the outcomes of the compact, adding that the NGF is committed to making UHC a reality for all Nigerians.

The Director-General of the the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the launch of the Health Sector Renewal compact could be a turning point for Nigeria and Africa , adding that if implemented, it will send a powerful message throughout the continent, that universal health coverage is possible.

He said, “Universal health coverage is a political choice. And it’s a choice you’re making. But it’s not a choice that’s made just on paper. It’s made in budget and policy decisions inside and outside the health sector.

“Most of all, it’s meant by investing in primary health care, which is the most inclusive, equitable, cost effective and efficient paths to universal health coverage.”

He said making the initiative work required rigorous implementation and careful monitoring to ensure value for money performance and quality care.

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