#AHAIC2019: Nigerian delegation holds session to bridge child, family health funding gaps

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#AHAIC2019

To bridge financial gaps of Child and Family Health, the Nigerian delegation at the 2019 Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) is holding a session this afternoon, the second day of the event.

The Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) in collaboration with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPPS led the Nigerian delegation for the conference holding at the Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda.

Themed ‘2030 Now: Multi-sectoral Action to Achieve Universal Health Coverage in Africa’, the three-day event is co-hosted by Amref Health Africa and the Ministry of Health of Rwanda.

Speakers at the opening ceremony of the conference yesterday included Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health of Rwanda; Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa among others. They expounded the urgency of accelerating efforts to reach Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in African countries by 2030.

According to Bill and Melinda gates Foundation, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth and 4th country with the worst maternal mortality rate.

This is majorly because of poor funding for health.

Nigeria hosted the 2001 conference now known as “the Abuja Declaration”, where African leaders pledged at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to their health sectors.

But this is yet to become a reality today in Nigeria. The highest percentage since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95% of the budget was allotted to health.

Also, the joy that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund – a major funding mandate of the National Health Act was added to the 2018 annual budget was short-lived.

To date, funds appropriated under the 2018 and Q1 of the budget for BHCPF have not been released. Also, the BHCPF has not yet been made a Statutory Transfer, meaning there is no guarantee of its continuity.

On the other hand, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is supposed to lead the charge in reducing out-of-pocket spending on health services is Stifled by administrative, legal, political and technical encumbrances coupled with a poor social accountability implementation framework.

It is against this backdrop that the Nigerian delegates led by DRPC and NIPPS would be holding today’s panel session.

Nasirdeen Usman, the Secretary General of the Alumni association of NIPSS, would head the panel discussion themed ‘Unlocking the potentials of Universal Health Coverage as a domestic resource base to meet child and family health funding gaps in Nigeria’, by 3:45pm. at AD 4 hall inside the Kigali convention center.

A series of strategic engagements and panel discussions would follow until 5:10p.m. When organizers planned to wrap up the session.

Those expected to participate in the session among others include Enyantu Ifenne, Chairperson NHIS; Dogo Muhammad Waziri, Past Executive Secretary NHIS; Kyauta Bulus Tanyigna (NIPPS); Nneka Orji-Achugo, Health Economist at the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health among others.

Lanre Tejuoso, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health is also expected to be at the session.

3:50 Kigali Time: 2:50 Nigerian Time – Nasirdeen Usman, the Secretary General of NIPPs, the anchor of this afternoon’s session takes stage.

First to be welcomed on the high table by Mr. Usman is Mr. Tejuoso who played a significant role that saw to the approval of the BHCPF in the Nigerian budget for the first time in 2018.

He was followed by Mrs Ifenne, the chairperson of the NHIS governing council and Mr. Mohammad-Dogo, a former Executive Secretary of the scheme. Other panelists are now on stage.

Mr Usman starts by reeling out the grim statistics of the NHIS coverage in Nigeria. He says only 5 percent of Nigerians are covered under the NHIS. Of that 5 percent he said only 4 are in the formal sector with only one percent in the informal sector.

“It is as bad as that. In view of this we want to interrogate why we still have serious deficit in our journey to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

He says Nigeria is falling behind in achieving the 15 percent commitment of the Abuja Declaration.

The first part of the discussion starts with the policy angle of achieving UHC.

Kyauta Bulus Tanyigna of the NIPPS sets the ball rolling on the policy discussion.

Mr Tanyigna, a professor says the role of policy in achieving UHC is very fundamental. He goes down memory lane when President Abulsalami Abubakar signed policy for the UHC. The coming of the Olusegun Obasanjo regime he said heralded the inception of the NHIS.

He says all these where achieved through policies but “we are yet to make reasonable progress in implementation.”

He speaks about the percent allotted to health in the Nigerian annual budget. He listed some African countries that have achieved the 15 per cent Abuja declaration.

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He says through good policies, the 15 percent benchmark is achievable and can also chart the road-map in achieving UHC.

Senator Tejuoso speaks for the first time. He says to achieve UHC has been a tough road in the senate. He says there so many unimplemented laws in Nigeria.

He explains the pivotal role he played in the implementation of the National Health Act. “First of all I had to educate and lobby my colleagues on the need for health financing. I started with the senate president. i told them let us consider the Basic health Provision Fund.

“In 2016 and 2017, nothing happened, but in 2018 per advocacy amplified. With help of PACFAH we formed what we called the legislative network. We were able to bring in so many legislators and it was the game changer.”

The BHCPF is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act and was appropriated for the first time in the 2018 budget since the Act was signed in 2014.

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