The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to the implementation of Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians.
The minister said this on Thursday in Abuja at the ongoing conference of Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) with the theme “Accelerating Universal Health Coverage”.
Ehanire said the commitment of the Federal Government had brought about a number of initiatives ,part of which was the provision of Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), to be implemented in collaboration with state governments.
He said that the country was also working towards the implementation of mandatory health insurance, adding that, the initiatives were targeted towards raising adequate resources for healthcare.
Ehanire added that the initiative was also targeted towards ensuring equity in health financing, and ensure stable and more predominate public source of health financing.
“We believe our initiative will result to financial protection against catastrophic health expenditure, equity in resource distribution for healthcare and provision of healthcare services relative to needs, consequently, quickly propelling the country towards UHC.
“As part of efforts towards UCH, we are also working toward establishing functional and responsive National Emergency Medical service and Ambulance System across the country to ensure that emergencies are properly taken care of.
“This service will be at no cost to the end users. Additionally, we are working toward revamping tertiary healthcare services across the country, including active partnership with private sector for the attainment of quality health care,” he said.
He said that the COVID-19 pandemic had changed the world and had destroyed the economies of strong nations and also challenged their health systems.
Ehanire said that the response to the pandemic had also determined the political trajectory of many nations, as nations were engaging strategically to ensure that they overcome the pandemic.
He said that Nigeria, through the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, had taken bold steps to curtail the spread of the virus, with the creation of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to respond to the threat.
He said that the government had also signed the Coronavirus Disease Health Protection 2021 Regulations to enforce public health measures and non-pharmaceutical protocols, to support other ongoing technical measures to put COVID 19 under control.
According to him, the Federal Ministry of Health has also taken several strategic steps with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which has statutory role to provide leadership in the country’s public health response at the forefront curtail the COVID-19.
He said that the COVID-19 infections had also remained under control within the borders, adding that, with the technical support from World Health Organisation (WHO) advisory, NCDC and the Non-pharmaceutical protocol, transmission of the virus had continued to slowed down.
He said that Nigeria had been a subscriber to COVAX facility which aimed to provide vaccines to cover for 20 per cent of the populations.
The minister said that Nigeria had also registered with African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) of the African Union, to access vaccines to cover another 50 per cent of the population, adding that the country supported the whole of Africa and ECOWAS to overcome the virus.
“No one is safe till we are all saved”. It is in an effort to ensure universal coverage for vaccines that we have convened a COVID 19 vaccine conference to mobilize experts, role players, development partners and other stakeholders to create a unified and strategic national front for the provision of vaccines.
“Similarly, on Feb. 15, I inaugurated a National COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinating Committee to coordinate access, acquisition and distribution of vaccines and advise on the immunization strategy.
“We have created a system that allows all stakeholders to participate in the vaccine response without creating multiple channels or compromising the integrity of the system.
“Nigeria has received its first batch of the AstraZeneca Vaccines, the vaccines roll out has commenced with prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccination in the country in 4 phases with COVID-19 healthcare frontline workers and other frontline health care workers,” he said.