Health for All Co-hosts National Stakeholders Meeting on UHC in Nigeria

Health for All Co-hosts National Stakeholders Meeting on UHC in Nigeria

 {Photo credit: MSH}(From left) Hiwot Emishaw (Health for All Campaign); Dr. Femi Thomas (National Health Insurance Scheme); Prof. Khama Rogo (Health in African Initiative, International Finance Corporation in Nigeria); Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. C.O. Onyebuchi; Amb. Bala Sanni (Federal Ministry of Health); Nuhu M. Zabagyi (NHIS Board Chairman); Marie Francoise Marie Nelly (World Bank Country Representative); Pieter Walhof (PharmAccess Foundation); Abuja, March 9, 2014.Photo credit: MSH

In Nigeria, the Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage in Africa is effectively collaborating with stakeholders to support the government move toward universal health coverage (UHC).  Led by MSH and funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, the Health for All Campaign co-hosted a National Stakeholders Meeting on UHC in conjunction with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and PharmAccess Foundation on March 9, 2014. The prior day, March 8, the campaign hosted a media forum on “Effective coverage of progress towards universal health coverage in Nigeria.”

Media forum educates Nigerian journalists on UHC

In her welcome address, Chairperson of the media roundtable and MSH Country Representative Dr. Zipporah Kpamor reminded participants that MSH advocates for UHC at global, regional and national levels. Dr. Zipporah said:

MSH is a leading global advocate for UHC in the post-2015 sustainable health and development framework. Our vision is that of a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life. Our mission is to save lives and improve health among the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

UHC will play a major role in achieving this vision and mission which underlines our commitment to health as a basic human right.

Dr. Zipporah encouraged the journalists to report accurately as Nigeria progresses towards universal health coverage:

I trust that you will educate our fellow citizens on the routes to, and merits of, UHC, and report accurately and concisely as we travel this road together.

Hiwot Emishaw, Regional Coordinator of the Health for All campaign in Africa, highlighted key progress of the campaign in Ethiopia including the recently launched TV commercial, use of celebrities (athletes and actors) as Health for All Campaign Ambassadors, and the introduction of a media competition for journalists to promote excellent reporting of UHC-related issues.

With more than 20 journalists from leading print and electronic media outlets in Nigeria present, the discussion was greatly enriched by contributions from Declan Okpalaeke, Chairman of African Health Journalists Association, Tunde Akpeji, Knight International Journalist Fellow; and Chukwuma Muanya, Head of Guardian Health Desk.

The media forum heralded the well-attended National Stakeholders Meeting, on the eve of the Presidential Summit on Universal Health Coverage.

[(From left) Obinna Nnadi Amarachi (MSH Nigeria); Abiodun Awosusi (Health for All Campaign-  Nigeria); Dr Zipporah Kpamor (MSH Nigeria Country Representative); Hiwot Emishaw (Health for   All-Africa); Adebisi Arije (MSH Nigeria); Anteneh Tesfaye (Health for All Campaign-Africa).] {Photo credit: MSH.}(From left) Obinna Nnadi Amarachi (MSH Nigeria); Abiodun Awosusi (Health for All Campaign- Nigeria); Dr Zipporah Kpamor (MSH Nigeria Country Representative); Hiwot Emishaw (Health for All-Africa); Adebisi Arije (MSH Nigeria); Anteneh Tesfaye (Health for All Campaign-Africa).Photo credit: MSH.

Nigerian health officials, dignitaries, health managers, civil society meet on UHC

Chaired by the Honorable Minister of Health, Prof. Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu, the stakeholders meeting brought together top Federal Ministry of Health officials, including: newly appointed Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan; the NHIS Board and Management, including Executive Secretary NHIS, Dr. Femi Thomas; state commissioners of health; World Bank Representative in Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marie Nelly; Director, Health in Africa Initiative, International Finance Corporation in Nigeria, Professor Khama Rogo; Director, PharmAccess Foundation, Pieter Walhof; MSH Country Representative, Dr. Zipporah Kpamor; and MSH Regional Coordinator of the Health for All Campaign, Hiwot Emishaw.

In his opening remarks, the Honourable Minister of Health commended the consortium of NHIS, Health for All, IFC, and PharmAccess for organizing the event. Chukwu said:

This meeting will help us to understand UHC and dispel wrong notions about it. It will also help to identify pragmatic ways to convince policy makers, health care practitioners, the civil society and other stakeholders to support efforts towards coverage of all Nigerians.

The Executive Secretary of NHIS, Dr. Femi Thomas, gave an inspiring keynote address on leapfrogging Nigeria towards UHC. He acknowledged the Presidential mandate as a good start for Nigeria on its journey towards UHC.  Thomas said:

A new NHIS is emerging. We want to move from single-digit coverage to double-digit coverage. The Presidential mandate is to achieve 30 percent coverage by 2015, but at NHIS, we believe we can hit 40 percent by 2015.

We have conducted internal review and identified constraints. We are looking at three-phase reform in NHIS: restructuring and efficiency phase, consolidation phase and sustainable growth phase. We are willing to start with what we have, and learn as we move on.

MSH Healthcare Financing Deputy Global Technical Lead, Kathy Kantengwa, described the role of community-based health insurance in achieving universal health coverage. In her presentation, she pointed out that 50 nations, including Rwanda, have achieved or are close to achieving UHC—and Nigeria can learn from them as it moves towards UHC.

In the same vein, Prof. Khama Rogo, succinctly highlighted seven factors for state supported schemes that can facilitate achieving UHC in Nigeria: political commitment at all levels; detailed business plan on the proposed scheme; mobilization of all stakeholders; adequate resource mobilization from public, private and community sources, and donors; reduction of inefficiencies; consistent monitoring and evaluation; and strong sustainability plan.

The remarks created a solid foundation for subsequent panel discussions on pragmatic ways to achieve UHC in Nigeria with lessons from Rwanda, Ghana, Ethiopia, and successful pilot programs in Nigeria.

[In addition to dignitaries and country health officials, local government leaders, hospital managers, and heads of health workers associations and civil society organizations participated in the stakeholder meeting.] {Photo credit: MSH.}In addition to dignitaries and country health officials, local government leaders, hospital managers, and heads of health workers associations and civil society organizations participated in the stakeholder meeting.Photo credit: MSH.

Nigerian Presidential Summit ratifies declaration on UHC

Key recommendations at the Stakeholders Meeting fed directly into the Presidential Summit declaration on UHC (PDF), ratified on March 10.

The declaration reinforced health as a fundamental human right and recognized that, "UHC holds the key to unlocking the door for equitable, qualitative and universally accessible healthcare for all Nigerians without suffering financial hardship".

The declaration calls for pooling of resources from institutional mandatory health insurance, increased budgetary allocations to health at all levels of government, and innovative financing mechanisms into a UHC Fund, for funding of essential health services for all Nigerians, particularly the poor and vulnerable.

Adebisi Arije, director of communications for MSH Nigeria contributed to this piece.

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