The Presidential Health Reform Committee has presented its report to the valedictory Federal Executive Council(FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2021 approved the setting up of a Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the development and implementation of a Health Sector Reform programme for Nigeria.
Presenting the report, Osinbajo said that the committee proposed, among others, healthcare guarantees for all Nigerians registered on the National Social Register.
He said; “We also took extensive proposals from the committee members and the organisations they represent, including the National Assembly, state Governors, unions in the health sector and the private sector.
“This was followed by a retreat to brainstorm on several policy options, which arose from the submissions.
“Finally, we held meetings in technical sub-committees and in plenary to streamline the contentious issues and agree on a consensus position with the assistance of consultants, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who were engaged to support the committee.’’
The vice president said the committee’s deliberations had been productive and afforded it the opportunity to set Nigeria on the path to Universal Health Coverage.
According to him, the committee is mindful that investing in health will enable the country to unlock its immense potential and ensure that all Nigerians, regardless of their social status can access quality health services.
Osinbajo said: “However, we realise that this will require structural reforms, hence the intentional effort to cover the poor and ensure the mobilization of large amounts of private investments.
“ One of the first insights that confronted the committee was how the structure of our federation unwittingly contributes to poor health outcomes.
“The report addresses this in three ways–first is the use of the National Accountability Agreement on health performance.
“Second is the proposal for a National Partnership Agreement on Health Sector Reform Recommendations to be signed by all states and the FCT.
“Third is the strengthening of institutional arrangements for pandemic preparedness and response; this strengthening of institutional arrangements will be a national arrangement.’’
Osinbajo said that achieving Universal Health Coverage for Nigerians was the essence of the report.
He said that such coverage could be realised through the prioritisation of government spending on health and boosting of per capita health expenditure through the National Health Insurance System as the preferred public financing arrangement.
According to him, such an approach is one where the national or state health insurance authorities would benefit from the general budget transfers from the relevant federal or state governments.
He added: “The report therefore recommends healthcare guarantees for all Nigerians registered on the National Social Register—currently 12 million registered households—equivalent to about 55 million individual Nigerians.
“The report further recommends that the share of total health expenditure following our health insurance schemes must be more than 10 per cent.
“The committee is fully aware of the governance and institutional arrangement of the reform programme.
“We have proposed a number of institutional changes including the establishment of the National Tertiary Health Institutions Commission whose functions will be similar to that of the National Universities Commission and a National Quality and Healthcare Standards Commission.
“In view of obvious funding constraints, the committee hesitated to recommend new institutions; however, on the balance, we agreed that for us to make progress in our human development agenda, these institutions were essential.’’
Osinbajo said that other recommendations ranged from issues such as brain drain to the expansion of access to primary healthcare services and medical tourism.
The vice president said the recommendation also touched on mobilisation or leveraging private capital for health investments as well as their role in expansion of the supply of health workers in the medium and long term.
Osinbajo said that the report also proposed that vaccine manufacturing in Nigeria should be seen from the perspective of a national health security imperative rather than as a commodity production.
“Mr President, we do not have any illusions that these reports are easy to implement; beyond the financing requirements, there will be need for global expertise and collaborations; in this regard, local and international development partners will be much needed.
“For this and other purposes, we have proposed the setting of a programme delivery unit in the Office of the President.
“This independent but empowered unit will monitor and drive the report; important parts of the report are the draft National Health Amendment Bill and the draft amendments of other relevant bills.
“Mr President, while it is our duty to prepare this comprehensive roadmap towards universal health care in Nigeria, it has become the responsibility of the incoming administration to take this journey to its much desired destination and we wish them well in that patriotic enterprise.
“Again, we thank you, Sir, for this opportunity; and on behalf of the Presidential Health Reform Committee, it is my special honour and privilege to present to you, the Health Reform Report and Draft Bills,’’ he said.