Senate launches legislative network for Universal Health Coverage

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has launched a Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki launched the Network at a two day summit on how to effectively leverage statutory functions of the parliament for improved health financing towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.

The two day summit commenced on Monday, in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital.

The network is an Assembly of Nigerian Federal and state lawmakers, in collaboration with development partners which seeks to reach a common understanding of strategies to leverage legislative roles in appropriation, legislation, accountability, representation, and oversight towards achieving universal health coverage.

It also aims at acquainting participants with existing legislative, institutional and policy frameworks towards improved statutory legislative functions in healthcare financing reforms in Nigeria.

Other objectives of the summit include, initiating a process of sustained universal health coverage related peer learning among state lawmakers and their federal counterparts.

The summit which ends on Tuesday will also outline a road map of specific actions that the legislators will undertake to successfully operationalise the network and transform it into a National Health Assembly.

Dr. Saraki who is also the Chairman of the National Assembly, while addressing participants at the events, described the initiative as most timely.

“As a nation, we have opted to adopt the Universal Health Coverage which seeks to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.

Therefore, addressing the issues in financing healthcare in a sustainable manner to reach all Nigerians, calls for the harmonization of legislative actions at both the National and States levels.”

Chairman of the Senate committee on health, and convener of the summit, Senator Olanrewaju Tejuoso assured Nigerians that the initiative will help to reduce wastages in public financing of health campaigns.

“All we are doing is to ensure that we have collaboration across the federation. That is, to avoid a situation where the state legislature appropriates funds for HIV or Tuberculosis and the Federal legislature also does the same thing thereby duplicating funding for a disease. So, we want to talk to ourselves to ensure that the funding is evidence based and more effective health delivery for all Nigerians.”

The two day summit is being attended by legislators from the various states across Nigeria, and representatives of developments partners such as the USAID, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, Health Policy Plus, Christian Aid, and the UKaid.

Nnenna.O