Country Representative at Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Dr. Emmanuel Alhassan, warns that it takes less than 36 hours for an epidemic outbreak to spread from a remote village to any major city in the world.

He says it is therefore in everybody’s interest to prevent epidemics.

This is even as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control calls on legislators to increase budgetary allocations substantially for the country to be better positioned to prevent epidemics.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Alhassan and others spoke on Day Three of the Fourth Annual Legislative Summit on Health themed, ‘Universal Health Coverage and Health Security,’ on Tuesday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the summit, which held from May 23 to 25, had a central theme: ‘UHC and Health Security: Two sides of a coin for an efficient health system,’ convened by the National House of Assembly with support from partners.

Ihekweazu, who was represented by the Head of Special Projects and Partnerships Unit at NCDC, Dr. Priscilla Ibekwe, said the legislature must also ensure that states are able to provide all the required health security infrastructure at the subnational level.

Alhassan said that there must be transparency in terms of what had been budgeted and spent, and that implementing bodies must be answerable to ensure that the intent for the allocation was achieved.

He added that health security accountability framework was developed by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in collaboration with key stakeholders, which suggested different actions to be taken for different results at the legislative and executive levels of government.

Also speaking, Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, Nigeria Health Watch’s Managing Director, noted that CSOs had a critical role to ensure that there was stronger collaboration between the legislature and the implementing bodies.

Ihekweazu added that the media also played a critical role in communicating with the public to pass the right information.

She stressed that the legislature must be seen as champions for health security and must represent the interests of Nigerians.

“People do not want disruptions to their lives, however we remain at continued risk from the current and future pandemics,” she explained.

Dr. Yosola Akinbi of Human Capital Core Working Group, said Nigeria’s Human Capital Development Programme was designed in recognition that human capital development played a critical role in addressing poverty while ensuring participatory and sustainable economic growth.

Akinbi noted that the legislature at both the national and state levels should help galvanise strong political will, commitment, and leadership sponsorship from executive powers for human capital development.

Meanwhile, Dr Felix Ogedengbe, Chairman, National Emergency Medical Treatment Committee, said Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was a critical level of health care that must be prioritised alongside other levels of care.

“UHC can’t be achieved without an effective EMS,

“When the other levels of health care are weak, the burden falls on EMS,” Ogedegbe said.

He added that there was need for national governance structure and national coordination in the country.

NAN also reports that the overall objective of setting up the Legislative Network was to effectively leverage statutory functions of the legislature in Nigeria for improved health financing, toward effective and efficient utilisation of the resources for UHC.

The summit is one of the tools used by legislators to collectively strategise on how to achieve these objectives.

The first summit was convened in July 2017, and has held every year except 2020 because of COVID-19.

A major output of the meetings is a strategic framework called the Legislative Health Agenda, an actionable work-plan developed by each state to address existing challenges in the health sector by applying their statutory functions of legislation, (appropriation), oversight, (accountability), and representation.

 

NAN

 

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