Transforming Healthcare In Nigeria

Phil foden

Nigeria has not experienced the kind of attention it is receiving now on healthcare in the last 10 years. This is more than evident from the huge increase in the healthcare budget of the Federal Government in 2024. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is pursuing a ‘literal’ renewal of our healthcare services with the Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative. The public mission is to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable in the society have access to healthcare services. To achieve this outcome, the FG for the first time has signed a compact with the 36 State Governors in the country which has extracted their commitment towards improving and expanding Primary Healthcare in Nigeria.

This compact is joined by external development partners and grant financiers who have put more than 3 billion dollars to this initiative. “Health is wealth. Health is the basis for the accumulation of human capital for any population. A healthy population is a productive one. The goal of the renewed hope health agenda is to save lives, and reduce physical and financial pain for all Nigerians without leaving anyone behind.” This was stated by the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate. 

The Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative is working towards making sure that the 8,800 primary healthcare centres are receiving direct facility financing from the basic health care provision fund. 

The renewal investment initiative is working on revitalising primary healthcare centres across the country in terms of structures, equipment and training of the health officers. The 8,800 centres are being increased to about 17,000 centres nationwide. The initiative is also improving the vulnerable groups fund so that they do not face catastrophic expenditures in accessing healthcare services. About 120,000 frontline health workers are being trained through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, so that Nigerians will have access to quality care. Another 2500 doctors, nurses and midwives have been recruited through the primary healthcare system. This is where the compact with the state governments is important as the FG cannot do it all alone. In the last few months more than 700,000 Nigerians have been enrolled through the National Health Insurance Authority. This is a positive step towards ensuring that millions of Nigerians are enrolled in the Health Insurance Scheme.

Prof. Pate has also said that the President has approved the provision of state of the art cancer treatment and diagnostics centres in 6 Teaching Hospitals in all the geo-political zones of the country. This would be done in collaboration with the NSIA, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which has already built a similar oncology facility at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH. the 6 Teaching Hospitals chosen are the ones in Katsina, Jos, Zaria, Lagos, Benin and Nsukka. Infrastructural and equipment upgrades are also being carried out in different Teaching hospitals, Federal medical centres, and Specialist hospitals so that Nigerians can actually feel the impact of the health sector renewal investment initiative. 

A lot is also being done to unlock the healthcare value chain according to the Minister, so as to provide employment for Nigerians in the healthcare sector. Investments are also coming in he said, citing a Brazilian company coming to invest and set up a generic pharmaceuticals manufacturing company, investing about 240 million dollars. The Federal Ministry of Health has also signed an MOU with Afrexim Bank for 1 billion dollars, so that willing investors can go through Afrexim, go through the processes, and access funds that are to be invested in the healthcare value chain. Nigeria can provide 60% of the healthcare value chain demands of the entire West Africa if properly harnessed. 

Other issues being tackled are the Health security agenda which is focused on dealing with outbreaks. A one health steering committee to stop diseases in the animal world from progressing into the human health arena, and strengthening our surveillance systems and laboratory capacity has already been inaugurated and has been proactive. Cases of meningitis in Yobe were decisively dealth with by the provision of 1 million doses of pentavelant meningitis vaccine sourced from the Gavi vaccine alliance. Ribavirin vaccines were provided in Kaduna for the outbreak of lassa fever in the State, along with personal protective equipment for workers. The steering committee is also ramping up campaigns to improve awareness of such outbreaks and how to contain them. 

The FG is also embarking on pool procurement of pharmaceuticals. This will target those items that are demanded by the less privileged for their medical needs. This will insulate them from the rising cost of medical supplies as inflation rears its head. The exercise is to keep drugs and other medical supplies affordable to the common man. A lot is being done to ensure that basic healthcare is accessible to all at minimal cost. A Social Action Fund is also being developed, which aims to put resources in the hands of communities, so that they can respond to their felt needs as against general blueprints that do not appeal to their unique needs. A research and development fund is also in the pipeline to support local researchers in developing vaccines and drugs. 2024 is the pivot year for the health renewal initiative, and with an experienced Professional of International repute like Prof. Pate as Coordinating Minister of Health, I am certain that our healthcare sector would definitely witness immense renewal. 


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