Senate moves to establish a commission for mental health

mental health
Mental Health

A bill that seeks to establish a commission for mental health passed second reading at the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill entitled “A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment and regulation of mental health and substance abuse services, protect persons with mental health needs and establishment of National Commission for Mental and Substance Abuse Services, for the effective management of mental health in Nigeria and for other related matters,2019” was sponsored by Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central).

The bill was first introduced to the Senate on October 14 and was passed after the lawmakers debated the provisions of the bill.

READ ALSO : How Good is Quality of Oxytocin in Nigeria?

Leading the debate, Mr. Oloriegbe said the bill is aimed at providing for the enhancement and regulation of mental health and substance abuse services;

The bill also seeks to protect persons with mental health needs and establish the National Agency for Mental and Substance Abuse Services for effective management of mental health in Nigeria and other related matters, he said.

He complained that there is no Mental Health Law in place in Nigeria other than the Regional Lunacy Law of 1958, which in content and context violates fundamental human rights of persons with mental health and psychosocial disabilities.

Some objectives of the bill include:

Provide enhancement of the mental well-being of the citizens through programs that promote mental health.

Prevent mental health and psychosocial disabilities.

Provide effective, compassionate, humane and universally accessible treatments for mental health and psychosocial disabilities and regulation of mental health substance abuse services.

Protect persons with mental health and psychosocial disabilities needs (from human rights abuse, stigmatization, and discrimination, protect their properties and support their families)

Ensure that the government and all stakeholders implement the content of the National Policy for Mental Health Care Delivery Services (including the integration of mental health and psychosocial services at all levels of health care delivery services).

To criminalize abuse of persons with mental health and psychosocial disabilities in Nigeria, decriminalize substance abuse disorder and increase funding for mental health and psychosocial programs.

While he assured that the bill will protect the rights of persons with mental health and psychosocial disabilities, Mr. Oloriegbe expressed concern at the alarming use of illicit and hard drugs.

Over N602 million (602,546,029) will be required for the establishment of the agency.

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How Good is Quality of Oxytocin in Nigeria?


The World Health Organisation maternal mortality indices have continued to increase with Nigeria making a contribution of 23 percent, the highest in the world. This is mostly through bleeding after birth which can be stopped by oxytocin. Although its availability is sometimes not in doubt, its quality calls for concern. 

Yemi’s delivery had some complications as the baby preferred to lie transverse. This had occurred a few days to her delivery and doctors warned that the safer option was to go through cesarean section. A traditional birth attendant, a member of her church had opted to check her after Yemi had narrated the hospital’s advice. She told Yemi that contrary to what doctors had said, it was possible for her to have a vaginal birth, assuring that like the Hebrew women in the Bible, her delivery will be successful. This was not to be as Yemi died two days after being handed over to a nearby hospital and leaving behind a healthy baby and tales of controversies.

She had died from complications resulting in severe bleeding and even though oxytocin had been ceaselessly administered, it was found out to be of low quality.

Oxytocin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland that causes increased contraction of the uterus during labour and stimulates the ejection of milk into the ducts of the breasts. However, in the third stage of labour when the placenta separates from the mother’s uterus and is delivered following the birth of the baby, previous studies have shown that when given to a woman during or immediately after the vaginal birth of her baby, it is effective in reducing excessive bleeding which often leads to death.

This is not peculiar to just Yemi but has become an everyday occurrence that is not limited to the poor, unschooled, or even child marriages with women who are first-timers and so inexperienced in what to expect from healthcare facilities.

The above scenarios are not peculiar to just Yemi and her colleague but are an everyday occurrence which is not limited to the poor, unschooled, or even child marriages with women who are first-timers and so inexperienced in what to expect from healthcare facilities and in Yemi’s case, the TBAs.

At the future of health conference 2019 and with the theme “Time to focus on quality in healthcare: Improving outcomes” which was organised by Nigeria Health Watch, reports indicate that according to the latest 2018 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) data, 67 percent of pregnant women commenced antenatal visits, while only 56.8 percent completed four visits.

The most common cause of maternal deaths in Nigeria has been attributed to heavy bleeding post-childbirth due to postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), which accounts for 23 percent of all maternal deaths, followed by infections following childbirth (sepsis) at 17 and unsafe abortion at 11 percent.

Chief of Party, Promoting the Quality of Medicine (PQM) program, United States pharmacopeia, Dr. Chimezie Anyakora during the conference seconded the above claims, stating that most cases of maternal mortality are as a result of bleeding after birth. He said while oxytocin is a handy dose with a WHO charter endorsed on it, to curtail bleeding, its poor quality has continued to be a nightmare in the country’s healthcare system.

He emphasized that depending on the manufacturer, oxytocin products should be stored at either controlled room temperature which is often 25°C or less or in refrigerated storage of 2°- 8°C in order to ensure quality and comply with the labeled storage conditions.

“Death by heamorage should be cut short by at least 75 percent and oxytocin can curtail this. Medicine quality is an important aspect, especially in Nigeria. 95 percent of oxytocin is of poor quality. Poor quality medicine is a global issue but in Africa, it is acute. Many don’t have a clear route to how medicine is preserved.”

It is pertinent to note that some of the efficacious interventions to tackle these causes are still not reaching women, especially the poor, disadvantaged and most vulnerable. There is a significant gap in the numbers in the North-Eastern region, with maternal deaths at 1, 5 47 per 100, 000 live births, compared to the national average of 560 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Ongoing studies have revealed that injectable ergometrine, methylergometrine, and oxytocin should be stored under refrigeration as much as possible with all products clearly marked with “keep under refrigeration” and ergometrine and methylergometrine should additionally be marked with “protect from light”.

Another stakeholder, DG/CEO, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Engr. Chidi Izuwah, said delivering quality maternal healthcare in Nigeria should involve collaboration between all stakeholders in the healthcare sector, both private and public healthcare providers, practitioners, public and private suppliers, health maintenance organisations (HMOs), pharmaceutical companies, and government, bearing in mind that the goal of these collaborations must always put the patient first.

“Let’s move from statistics and analysis and move into action. Enough of the rhetorics. Maternal and child health should be priority number one. There should be an annual state of mother and child report as this is bound to attract attention.”

In the drive to achieve the three arms of universal coverage, access, affordability, and quality: a greater focus is needed on quality in healthcare in order to improve patient outcomes and experience, ensuring that all patients have access to quality healthcare.

The Chief Medical Director, Lagoon Hospitals, Lagos, Dr. Olujimi Coker, in his analysis of the situation is of the opinion that in as much as quality has to be the bedrock of every health care, what is missing in the Universal Health Coverage is quality, stressing that so many resources are not needed in the provision of quality healthcare.

Stressing that maternal care protection is a good indication of how good a country’s healthcare is, solutions are multi-factorial and the possibility to have a society where no woman has to die is feasible and possible.

“There are cases of medication mismanagement and the misuse of antibiotics with processes that are not properly in place. You don’t need a lot of money to provide quality healthcare.

“Currently, efforts to improve quality in healthcare are not consistent across all healthcare providers, leaving many gaps in the system. There needs to be a greater effort to improve quality in healthcare in order to increase confidence in the healthcare sector, with the use of quality measures to access service delivery.”

Quality in maternal healthcare is not yielding improvement in health indices as expected in Nigeria, so it is imperative to consider the standard of healthcare being received.

The availability of electricity for the preservation of oxytocin and other medical equipment, especially in healthcare and storage facilities needs to be improved, and with a reduction in the delay’s women face in receiving care as well as maximizing resources to avoid wastage. After all, pregnancy is not a sickness but a state of being and no woman must die while giving life.

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Nigeria Marks National Antibiotics Awareness Week 18th-24th November, Advocates Responsible Use Of Antibiotics


The Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organisation, key private sector and civil society organisations, are marking the 2019 National Antibiotics Awareness Week (NAAW). The NAAW is an annual national campaign to increase awareness across all sectors on the global threat of antibiotic resistance and to promote best practice of antibiotics usage among the general public, health workers and policymakers. The week is marked to increase awareness and prevent further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. Nigeria’s commemoration is part of activities to observe the 2019 World Antibiotics Awareness Week.

Antibiotics are used worldwide in the treatment of bacterial infections in humans and animals. The effectiveness of antibiotics has also been its biggest challenge. The ease of access and overuse of antibiotics have resulted in an increased resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, which is paradoxically leading to a loss of effectiveness. Antimicrobial resistance is a situation where micro-organisms treated with antibiotics develop immunity or become resistant to antibiotics due to misuse of the drugs. The emergence of multidrug-resistant organisms has led to an increasing burden of antimicrobial resistance in every region of the world affecting people of all ages and status. This can be reduced by a more targeted, responsible approach to the use of antibiotics.

With a series of planned activities, Nigeria will mark the week from the 18th to the 24th of November, 2019 to spread awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance, as well as promote the responsible use of antibiotics among the general public.

A major activity to mark the week is the launch of a digital platform to document pledges from Nigerians to undertake behaviours encouraging responsible use of antibiotics. This is with the support of Public Health England, the UK’s public health institute. The platform, the Antibiotic Guardian Pledge (, is targeted at policymakers, health care professionals, students, farmers and Nigerians at large. It curates a set of pledges and encourages participants to commit to a pledge to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics.

Other events to commemorate the 2019 National Antibiotics Awareness Week include:

An awareness walk in Abuja, bringing partners and stakeholders together to create awareness on antimicrobial resistance in Nigeria and promote responsible antibiotic use.

A Twitter campaign on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to spread key messages on the social media in Nigeria using the hashtag #AMRactionNG and #NAAW2019. This holds on Monday 18th November and is open to the public.

A Twitter chat with the Africa CDC, Public Health England and the NCDC on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will take place on Wednesday, 20th November 2019. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #AfricaWAAW, #NAAW2019 and #AMRactionNG.

READ ALSO: Ko Ko Ko Make we yan with Dr Weyoms – Family…

A training session organised for members of the media on how to report AMR accurately. Awareness visits to abattoir and livestock markets on Wednesday, 20th November 2019.A training workshop for laboratory scientists on AMR at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.An inter-secondary school debate to engage young people.

Nigeria has successfully achieved milestones in the national fight against AMR. In November 2017, Nigeria conducted a situation analysis on the state of antimicrobial resistance in the country and developed a national action plan to build on strengths and address gaps identified in results from the analysis. In 2018, Nigeria began reporting actively to the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS), an initiative developed to support the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. In the same year at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Nigeria pledged and committed to scaling up national surveillance on AMR as part of the global AMR challenge. This includes the development and distribution of a national toolkit for AMR stewardship in healthcare institutions in the country, as well as the implementation of infection prevention and control programs across health institutions.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians from the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance.

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22% of Nigerian women can’t access contraceptives –NGO

Nigerian women
Nigerian women

A civil rights organization, Marie Stopes International Organisation of Nigeria, has advised Nigerian women to space their children in such a way that they would be strong and healthy enough to contribute to the wellbeing of their families.

MSION said its mission was to provide sexual reproductive health services in the country and “ensure that families and women have children by choice, not by chance.”

The organization said that despite their readiness to engage in family planning and child spacing, about 22 percent of women of reproductive age in Nigeria lack access to contraceptives.

READ ALSO: (HEFAMAA) shuts 14 substandard hospitals in Lagos State

The Country Director of MSION, Effiom Nyong Effiom, expressed these views during a ceremony held in Abuja to mark its 10th anniversary in the country.

Effiom added that the organisation had, in the past one decade, delivered over 29 million family planning services to 7.2 million persons in Nigeria as a result of its health system strengthening efforts in the public and private health sectors.

He said, “MSION has grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade with more than 29 million family planning services delivered to 7, 239, 147 persons in Nigeria, as a result of Marie Stopes’ health strengthening efforts in the public and private health sectors, as well as direct service delivery through the Marie Stopes ladies, mobile outreach and centres.

“We found out that about 22 percent of women of reproductive age, as the last Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey shows, desire the contraceptive method. But they are not getting it. So, it is a significant number when you look at that and it means we are failing these women.”

Effiom advised women to space their children for the sake of their health and that of the country, saying that family planning must be seen as a life-saving measure and not a religious or cultural crime offence.

He said; “Women must space their children so that they can recover, be strong and healthy to contribute to their families. Inadequate spacing endangers the woman and the family as a whole because women are the bedrock of the family. A healthy mother will take care of her family better than anybody else.

“We dream of a world where every birth is wanted. We want people to have children because they want to and not because it just happened. We are providing the methods that will help them to do this because we want families to be healthy.

“We do not know of any religion that frowns at family planning. There is family planning even in Afghanistan. Ireland, with its largely Catholic faith, has made some changes. England has also made changes. I do not think it is about religion. It is more of education and information.”

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(HEFAMAA) shuts 14 substandard hospitals in Lagos State


Lagos State Government through the Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) has shut 14 health facilities for non-compliance with regulatory standards.

The Executive Secretary of HEFAMAA, Dr. Abiola Idowu, who disclosed this after an enforcement exercise carried out by the agency recently, stressed that the state government remains committed to putting a halt to the ugly trend of having unqualified personnel work in health facilities and will continue to insist that the environment for the dispensation of medical care should be suitable for the promotion and maintenance of good health.

According to her, the government will not tolerate any form of illegal health practices in the state as health security is an integral part of public security which is the primary duty of the government.

Read More: Ko Ko Ko Make we yan with Dr Weyoms – Family…

She stressed that the government will ensure that all health facilities in the state conform to best practices. She urged all health facility operators to abide strictly by the standards of the HEFAMAA to avoid being sanctioned.

HEFAMAA boss urged members of the public to continue to cooperate and support the state government in the fight against quackery and illegal operation of facilities by reporting those behind such acts to relevant government agencies to safeguard the health and the well-being of the citizenry.

She advised owners and operators of health facilities in the State to ensure they complete their registration with HEFAMAA, collect the agency’s logo and display them at a visible position in around their facilities where members of the public can see.

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Gates Foundation plans $200m for sickle cell, HIV cures

Gates Foundation
Gates Foundation

The US government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged Wednesday to jointly invest $200 million over the next four years to achieve affordable gene therapy-based cures for sickle cell disease (SCD) and HIV.

The administration of President Donald Trump announced earlier this year its intention to end the HIV epidemic over the next decade and has also identified SCD, which disproportionately affects people of African descent, as a condition requiring greater attention.

READ ALSO: ON FIVE – ways to maintain Healthy Vaginal Hygiene

Gene therapy is a relatively new area of medicine designed to replace faulty genes in the body that are responsible for a disorder and has been responsible for new treatments for blindness and certain types of leukaemia.

But the treatments are complex and costly, ruling them out as an option for most of the world.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said the collaboration would focus therefore on “access, scalability, and affordability” to make sure the eventual treatments are available globally.

The NIH and Gates Foundation aims to achieve clinical trials in the United States and countries in sub-Saharan Africa within the next seven to 10 years.

Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders characterized by the presence of an abnormal protein in the red blood cells, causing the feet and hands to swell, fatigue, jaundice, and episodic or chronic pain.

Over time the disease can harm a patients’ vital organs, bones, joints, and skin and it is currently only curable via a blood and bone marrow transplant, available to only a tiny fraction of people who have the disease.

When it comes to HIV, antiretroviral therapy (ART) are now able to reduce patients’ viral load to the point that they are undetectable and cannot be further transmitted.

But “a major goal is to find a cure, whereby lifelong ART would not be required,” said the NIH’s Anthony Fauci.

Though SCD is a genetically inherited disease, and HIV is acquired from infection, gene-based treatments are said to hold promise for both, and “many of the technical challenges for gene-based cures are expected to be common to both diseases.”

The goal for SCD is to achieve a gene-based intervention that either corrects the gene mutation responsible or promotes fetal haemoglobin gene expression to achieve normal haemoglobin function.

For HIV, the proposed cure would involve targeting the reservoir of proviral DNA that lurks inside a small number of cells even after many years of ART.

The NIH said that approximately 95 percent of the 38 million people living with HIV globally are in the developing world, with 67 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, half of whom are living untreated. Around 1.1 million Americans are affected

SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans, according to official figures. Fifteen million babies will be born with SCD globally over the next 30 years, with about 75 percent of those births occurring in sub-Saharan Africans, said the NIH.

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Infectious Diseases: LASG Strengthens Emergency Preparedness

infectious diseases
infectious diseases

The Lagos State Government (LASG) says it has strengthened its emergency preparedness against infectious diseases through the implementation of policies on bio-security and bio-banking.

Prof Abayomi said that the Ministries of Health and Justice were working assiduously to review the relevant state laws pertaining to the policy.

READ ALSO: Benue State Affirms Outbreak of Lassa Fever

He said that this was in preparation for the development of bio-security and biotechnology policies along with the THEMES agenda of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration.

  Bio-security procedures are designed to protect the population against harmful biological or biochemical substances.

 Bio-banking refers to the process by which samples of bodily fluid or tissue are collected for research use to improve understanding of health and infectious diseases.  

 Abayomi said that the state had inaugurated a 12-member governing council which comprised of experts and specialists from various disciplines.

 He said that these include:  bio-banking, bio-security, molecular biology, public health, ethics, security, law, and anthropology.

 The commissioner said that the council would provide governance and regulatory frameworks that would ensure a bio-secure environment in the state.  

He added that biological samples and data emanating from the state would be collected, stored and accessed in ways that they would be beneficial to the state.

The commissioner said that the council would ensure that knowledge gained from the samples and data accessed would be shared to increase the state’s medical-biological knowledge economy and improve emergency preparedness.

“The council shall pay attention and exercise oversight functions on issues of international treaties that protect society from biological threats and the subject matter of changing ethical paradigms,” he said.

The commissioner said that the state had instituted the one health paradigm to be part of the national and global health security networks and the global knowledge economy.  

He stressed that the advent of the infectious diseases, Ebola virus disease had opened a new chapter, which revolves around bio-economy and preparedness for emergencies.

“Lagos State is rapidly expanding into a megacity that is experiencing multiple biosecurity threats which require proactive strategic mitigation and countermeasures,’’ he said.  

Abayomi said that the council would look at the spectrum of activities from the state’s vulnerability, institutions, resilience, the capacity to respond, samples, data and ability to derive knowledge from the indigenous environment and knowledge systems.

The commissioner added that members of the council would undergo an intense modular training and orientation phase for one year to prepare them adequately for the task ahead.  

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Yellow Fever: Katsina Govt to Vaccinate 7 Million Residents

Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever

Katsina State Government says it is targeting seven million people in the ongoing vaccination against Yellow Fever holding across the state.

The vaccination followed the detection of 36 new yellow fever cases mostly in Danmusa and Kankara Local Government Areas of the state.

READ ALSO: NGO Applauds Govts For Scaling Up Prevention Services For HIV

The Deputy Governor of Katsina state, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, said while inspecting the vaccination exercise on Monday in Katsina that all residents should avail themselves of the opportunity.

“These emerging cases are the reasons why the state government is flagging the commencement of the preventive campaign against this potentially life-threatening disease with free vaccines.

 “Yellow fever is a serious infectious disease transmitted by specific kind of infected mosquitoes.

“This is a great opportunity for all caregivers to have their children from the age of 9 months vaccinated and for other individuals up to the age of 44 years.

“This age range is chosen because they are found to be most affected,” he said.

The deputy governor appealed to the heads of households, individuals, traditional and religious leaders to engage their community members to get vaccinated.  

He called on parents to ensure that all eligible target population were captured in the vaccination exercise which would last for 10 days.

Yakubu directed local government chairmen to attend evening review meetings on the exercise, to ensure proper monitoring and ensure success.   He noted that for the success of the exercise, vaccines, syringes, and data tools had been supplied to all the councils.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib said the exercise would be extended to schools, mosques, churches, markets, and motor parks, among other places where eligible persons could be found.

 Shuaib represented by a member of the National Technical Coordinating Committee, Shehu Usman called on all to mobilize their families, friends, and communities for the yellow fever vaccination.

The deputy governor was represented by the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Health, Dr. Kabir Mustapha.

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NGO Applauds Govts For Scaling Up Prevention Services For HIV

prevention services for HIV
prevention services for HIV

Mr. Bartholomew Ochonye, Country Director, Heartland Alliance International (HAI), commended the Governments for scaling up prevention services for HIV and AIDS.

READ ALSO: FMC Set Up Oxygen Plant in Nasarawa

Ochonye, in an interview, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that some states of the federation had taken over the bills for treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS.

NAN reports that HAI is an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), based in Nigeria engaged in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“Some states like Akwa Ibom and Rivers governors have officially paid for treatment fees for people living with HIV in hospitals,’’ he said.

The Director of HAI who expressed satisfaction with the development said that the number of people living with HIV had dropped from 3.5m to about 1.9m based on the Nigeria AIDS Indicator Impact Survey (NAISS) report released on March 2019.

According to him, the prevalence of HIV among adults from ages 15 to 49 is reduced from 3.4 per cent to 1.4 per cent while new infections increased from over 120,000 to 130,000 between 2010 and 2029.

Ochonye said that the number of deaths due to AIDS and AIDS-related complications had reduced by 26 per cent from 72,000 to 53,000 in 2010.

he HAI Country Director said that the country’s progress so far made in terms of the UNAIDS target of 90-90-90, saying that the country was on track.

Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90:90:90 for 2020 means by 2020, 90 per cent of people living with HIV would know their status.

And 90 per cent of those who know their status would be accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of those on treatment would attain viral suppression.

Ochonye said that scientific evidence indicated that once a person had the undetectable virus in the system, that is, has been on the anti-retroviral treatment for some time, he cannot transmit the virus to another person.

He called for more investment by governments at all levels, in the prevention service for HIV and AIDS if the country were to make accelerated achievement.

Ochonye frowned at the low level of access to treatment by people living with HIV/AIDS and stressed on the need for the country to achieve 95 per cent treatment level, which was the current expected standard.

The Director, however, advocated that pregnant women be allowed access to free prevention of “parent to child transmission services’’ in hospitals.

He reiterated the need for intensive care, for mothers, calling for friendly sexual and reproductive health services and prevention service for HIV and AIDS in all states of Nigeria.

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Ganduje Pledges Support for Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage
Universal Health Coverage

The Gov. of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje has declared his support for the implementation of all health sector reforms towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the state.

READ ALSO: Promulgate Emergency in Drug Distribution, Lagos PSN Tasks FG

Ganduje, represented by Nasir Gawuna, the Deputy Governor of Kano State, made the pledge  for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage at a three-day workshop for all states’ social health insurance agencies on Monday in Kano.

 He said the workshop was timely and had come when the Nigerian population was clamoring for access to affordable and qualitative healthcare.

 Ganduje said Kano State had commenced the implementation of contributory healthcare scheme over one and a half years ago and had become successful with over 370,000 enrollees accessing healthcare.

 “The scheme is currently operating in 245 healthcare facilities, comprising l34 primary healthcare facilities, 37 secondary healthcare facilities and 74 private healthcare facilities.

“We have provided the legal framework for the scheme, renovated and furnished the Agency’s office accommodation, amounting to N85 million.

“We have also approved a grant of N250 million for the provision of ICT infrastructure and released Nl00 million as a necessary requirement for Kano state,’’ he said.

Ganduje noted that the contributory healthcare scheme population coverage throughout the country had remained low.

 He added that this had challenged most states of the federation to domesticate the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) based on their religious beliefs and traditional value system.

The governor, however, said access to affordable healthcare had continued to be a challenge for most households due to the high level of poverty and significant reliance on out-of-pocket expenses.

Ganduje further explained that the participation in the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), in line with the state’s policy, drove to strengthen the state’s health system.

He said five per cent of the state’s internally-generated revenue and one per cent of the local government areas’ statutory allocation have been dedicated to the health sector under the Kano State Health Trust Fund (KHETFUND).

“The state is considering scaling up its free Maternal and Child Health programme by covering additional vulnerable groups, particularly, pregnant women, children under five and retired civil servants, under the Kano State Contributory Health Scheme.

 “These are part of government’s intervention towards a sustainable health system that will drive the process of achieving Universal Health Coverage by ensuring all Kano State residents have access to effective, quality and affordable health care,’’ the governor said.

The Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, while speaking, said the workshop was aimed at aligning State Health Insurance Schemes to the NHIS.

He said this was highly necessary, “because, in the year 2000, Nigeria was ranked 187 out of 191 in performance in health care systems globally”. Sambo noted that this was not good enough for Nigeria’s image among the comity of nations.

 He said the global target of attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 became a national momentum generated to confront the challenges.

“One of the viable options was to develop a National Health Bill that would transform the health sector so as to be more responsive to meeting the yearnings and aspiration of the citizens.

“It took more than a decade to get this Bill passed into law, which became the current National Health Act that we are all celebrating today.

“One appealing feature of this Act is the provision, that not less than one per cent consolidated revenue shall be dedicated to the health sector, out of which half of that fund is intended to improve financial access to health care services to the citizens through the National Health Insurance,” the NHIS executive secretary said.

He further stated that the programme had become a reality, adding that many states lagging behind had successfully keyed into the programme.

Sambo said NHIS disbursed the first tranche of N6.5 billion of Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) to 15 states and FCT in the last two weeks.

 He added that NHIS intends to develop a comprehensive coordination platform between it, states’ agencies, partners and other stakeholders in order to make health insurance the best programme in Nigeria.

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