Medical experts seek implementation of Universal Health Coverage

Rafat Salami

To commemorate the Universal Health Coverage day, health experts in Nigeria are calling for the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to ensure social protection for the populace.

In Abuja, an NGO, Health Finance and Governance, observed the day with a road walk during which it called on all tiers of government to prioritise the implementation of UHC.

Dr Gafar Alawode, Chief of Party of Health Finance and Governance, said that the day was a rallying point for the growing movement for good health for all, adding that it marked the UN historic and unanimous endorsement of UHC in 2012.

He said that part of the implementation of UHC included the implementation of the National Health Act to transform the healthcare financing landscape at the national and state levels.

He stressed that full implementation of the Act would further ensure that nobody faced any financial hardship in trying to access healthcare services.

 “We do not want a situation where people while trying to access healthcare are thrown into poverty as a result. We don’t want a situation where some will even sell their belongings to attend to their health needs rather we want them to access healthcare without having any financial hardship”, he said.

The theme of the celebration was: “Act with ambition’’.

An in Lagos, to commemoerate the day two medical experts asked for more Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and collaboration with wealthy individuals in the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.

A Consultant Oncologist, Dr Ntekim Atara, and a Health Financing Officer, Dr Francis Ukwuije, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos in commemoration of UHC Day marked every December 12.

Dr Ntekim Atara,, a lecturer at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, said that philanthropists and well-meaning Nigerians should be encouraged to key into UHC.

“I think based on our experiences, we have been pushing things to the government all along, but it cannot do everything. Though, government can provide the policy framework, people should be able to undertake, either set up health centre and make it free or render subsidised services.”

Dr Dr Francis Ukwuije a consultant oncologist the Head, Healthcare Financing Equity and Investment, Federal Ministry of Health, said that the starting point for achieving UHC requires the attention of governments at all levels.

According to him, “government should show commitment to ensure that every Nigerian has a financial access to healthcare services through the mandatory health insurance scheme and other financial risk protection mechanisms. It should ensure that all employers in the formal, informal and organised private sector cover their employees with mandatory health insurance scheme”.

The expert said that achieving UHC would also require good leadership, health services, workforce, information system and health financing system.

The World Health Organisation defines Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as meaning that everyone can access the quality health services they need without financial hardship.

It says UHC is a means to promote the human right to health.