By Hassan Zaggi
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said that the federal government remained committed to ensure that Nigeria attains Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through the efficient utitlisation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).
The BHCPF, he noted, have been revised to provide a much richer Basic Minimum Package of Health Services in order to meet common healthcare needs of all Nigerians.
The Vice President stated this at the Fourth Annual Legislative Summit on Health with the theme: UHC and Health Security (HS): Two sides of a coin for an efficient health system, in Abuja.
The summit was convened by the National House of Assembly with support from partners.
Represented by the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Vice President reiterated that with the BHCPF, the poor and vulnerable will have access to essential health services without experiencing catastrophic out-of-pocket expenditure that often brings financial hardship to most Nigerians.
He, however, called on the participants at the summit to critically look at the issues and come up with recommendations that would complement ongoing efforts towards strengthening the health system in the country.
“| believe that at the end of this summit, that link will even be made clearer.
“Our experience in the last one year of COVID in Nigeria has exposed the vulnerability of our health system and the importance of preparedness, diagnosis and response mechanism.
“However, there are different understanding of what is meant by the concept of health Security,” he added.
“According to the World health Organization, Global public health security is defined as the activities required, both proactive and reactive, to minimize the danger and impact of acute public health events that endanger people’s health across geographical regions and international boundaries,” he said.
He advocated that a dedicated fund be set aside always which can be made available whenever there was a public health emergency.
He explained that: “Such fund should only be utilized when a public health emergency is declared while the legislature must ensure that adequate budgetary allocation is made for preparedness Activities,
“Reactive and response activities must also include ensuring the continuity of routine services such as immunization, family planning ete and keeping sight on other diseases like malaria.
“According to data from the Federal Ministry of Health, outpatient consultations were 15-20 percent lower than expected in the first 4 months of the pandemic. This was quickly addressed and with the commitment of our health workers, we have been able to restore these services.” he explained.
Speaking, the Senate President, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed great challenge to the country in the past months.
Represented by Deputy Chief Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate President applauded the frontline health workers for their efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.