In separate interviews with our correspondent, the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, Lagos State, Dr Saliu Oseni, and the Chairman Medical Guild, Lagos State, Dr Babajide Saheed, said the 2030 target was feasible but it would be difficult to achieve with the way the health sector was currently being run.
Oseni said, “In view of what we have on the ground now, achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria by 2030 is not realistic. However, it doesn’t mean that it is not achievable. If we are focused and we outline our plan properly, it is possible; but with what we have on the ground now it is not likely to be achieved.
“We all know that for Universal Health Coverage to be achievable, we need to stop out-of-pocket payment, and health insurance has been one of the main means to achieve this. But unfortunately, the Nigerian system has not really allowed health insurance to work properly.”
The Lagos NMA chairman called for proper monitoring of funds released to the health sector to ensure that funds released are used for what they were meant for.
Also, Saheed, the chairman of Medical Guild, said the Universal Health Coverage could still be achieved in Nigeria by 2030 if the country had the political will and put the necessary structures in place.
“What we need is to restructure our health system. There are three levels of care – the primary, secondary and tertiary. The main one is the primary because it is close to the people. We have to make sure that we rejuvenate the primary health centres as a lot of problems can be prevented at this level.
“Universal Health Coverage implies that everybody must have access to quality health care delivery. The government must also increase health care funding by making sure that the budgetary allocation for the health sector aligns with the recommendations of WHO which stipulates that the health budget should be 15 per cent of the total annual budget of a country. We have to take health seriously in this country if we are to achieve the Universal Health Coverage by 2030,” Saheed said.
Meanwhile, the Director-General, WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, in a statement on the organisation’s website to mark the 2019 World Health Day on Sunday, said a total of five billion people must have access to quality health care in the next five years in other to meet the 2030 target of achieving the Universal Health Coverage.
“This is not an unattainable dream and it will not require billions of dollars to implement. Universal Health Coverage is achievable for all of us. Today, half of the world’s population cannot access essential health services. Millions of women give birth without help from a skilled attendant; millions of children miss out on vaccinations against killer diseases, and millions suffer and die because they can’t get treatment for HIV, TB and malaria.
“This is simply unacceptable in 2019. The good news is that there is a growing movement to address these challenges. Although there will always be outbreaks of health-related issues and other disasters, investing in stronger health systems can help to prevent or mitigate them,” Ghebreyesus said.
Source: Medical World Nigeria