An average household n Nigeria spends not more than 20 per cent on health bills, a new survey by the Health Finance and Governance project has revealed.
The survey, inaugurated by the United States Agency for International Development, Office of Health Systems, noted that Nigeria ranked as one of countries with the lowest health insurance coverage in the world.
The USAID’s Office of Health Systems, which inaugurated the project to support countries to improve their health systems and ensure the preservation of the gains, described non-implementation of health policies and failure in fulfilling political promises by Nigerian governments as factors hindering the nation from reaching its Universal Health Coverage goal.
Speaking at the Healthcare Financing Capacity Building Workshop in Lagos on Monday, HFG Country Manager, Dr. Elaine Baruwa, noted that though Nigeria had one of the
best health care financing models, it had failed to implement most of them. According to Baruwa, though no country can operate a free healthcare system, governments should ensure that citizens have access to affordable and quality care without going bankrupt.
She said, “Nigeria is lacking in the area of political will. The truth is that the country’s allocation to health is insufficient. For instance, the 2016 federal budget for the health sector is lower than that of 2015 budget, therefore, we are moving in the wrong direction.
“If we want to achieve Universal Health Coverage, we need to contribute and put forward more resources for health and channel them to insurance. “It high time Nigerians held their politicians responsible for the healthcare promises made during campaigns, especially the implementation of free healthcare for women and children. We have to make noise about the failing promises.”
The HFG boss, who stated that less than five per cent of Nigerians had health insurance, described the country’s health indices as one of the poorest in Africa.
According to her, the percentage of women and children immunised and placed on pre-and post-natal care is one of the many measures used to access the health status and expenditures of the surveyed countries.
She said, “On those indicators alone, we are not doing as well as some of our neighbouring countries. We have to make a lot of progress. We are not doing well in terms of health status and in terms of financial protection.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said that aside from access to quality health services, no citizen should lose all their earnings because of ill health.
Idris noted that healthcare financing remains a cardinal pillar of any health system because of its role in shaping the direction of the sector.
“Though the Lagos State Health Scheme has been passed into law, we must recognise the massive work that is still required by all towards the attainment pf a Universal Health Coverage,” he added.
The Punch News
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