By Hassan Zaggi
A group of youth under the umbrella of Nigerian Youth Champions for Universal Health Coverage (NYC4UHC), have called on the federal and states governments to implement youths and adolescents health policies in all parts of the country.
The Acting Chairperson, NYC4UHC, Oyeyemi Pitan, made the call at a press conference to mark the year 2020 Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, in Abuja, weekend.
She lamented that the journey towards achieving UHC in Nigeria is very slow pace, out-of-pocket expenses for health care remains high, the budget for health at all levels of government very low and health insurance penetration remains low.
While presenting a 5-points demand, the group called on the federal government to provide seats for young people in all Ministerial Technical Working Groups, the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force, the Immunization Expert Review Committee and the Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee.
They also call for the inclusion of adolescent and young people as beneficiaries on the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF); investments in health systems strengthening that transcend the immediate.
“Such as comprehensive healthcare especially at the primary level, which is the first line of defense against outbreaks, and the foundation for strong health care systems, basic health care which is crucial in setting up emergency response plans so that the current and future pandemics are contained and managed with as little damage as possible,” it said.
The group also advocated the allocation of not less than 2% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for UHC in the 2021 budget with effective implementation strategies for its actualization
While calling for more investment in the health sector, the group said: “We urge President Muhammad Buhari, the Health Minister, Finance Minister, Budget and Planning Minister, as well as other relevant agencies to see health as a national security issue that needs urgent attention so that our nation can emerge stronger after the pandemic.
“Today is UHC day. Nearly one year after the first COVID-19 case was reported in Nigeria, the message is clear: we must invest in health systems that protect everyone, now.
“Despite the creation of the BHCPF to strengthen PHC infrastructure and for the provision of a basic minimum package of services for all citizens, free at the point of use, the health situation in Nigeria is still dire.
“Because of weak PHC systems, child mortality rates are high (about 132 children die per 1,000 live births), children still die from preventable diseases like pneumonia and malaria killing about 24000 people and contributing to an estimated 11% of maternal mortality.
“Adolescents and young people are besieged with mental, sexual and reproductive health issues and the older citizens of this country are plagued with non-communicable diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.”