Stakeholders have called for a holistic approach to tackle the lingering challenges facing the Nigeria's healthcare sector.
Highlighting the challenges, which include: inaccessibility and unaffordability of quality healthcare, inadequate funding and capacity gaps, decline of the Universal Health Coverage goal, disease burden, unavailability of quality healthcare coverage to low income class, inadequate healthcare facilities, weak healthcare system among others, they said, it was high time Nigeria learn from the developed countries and adopt their approach in solving the issues.
The stakeholders from both the private, public and individual, including the Minister of Health Prof. Issac Adewole and the Lagos state commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris, converged at the Healthcare stakeholders Conference 2017, organised by Hygeia Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO), with the theme: "Improving Healthcare Service Quality in Nigeria: be a Part of the Solution".
Speaking on the topic titled: "Making Healthcare Accessible to Everyone: The Challenges and the Solutions", Dr Tayo Aduloju, Public Reforms, Public-Private Dialogue, African Economic Policy said, Nigeria should adopt the Integrated Telemedicine and Improved Communication Services, World Class Patient Experience and total service care (pre-, during and after treatment), affordability and cost effectiveness of medical procedures, State-of-the-art Technology and advanced medical treatments, High Quality HealthCare by trained doctors, immediate access to health services, as well as medical-tourism convergence.
He said for Nigeria to achieve the Universal Health Coverage goal, it must "highlight the importance of the private health sector in Nigeria, explore ways in which key policy makers, donors, and other stakeholders can engage and develop it as a complement to over-stretched public-sector health care systems; Identify opportunities for investors to participate in the expected growth in healthcare spending in Nigeria over the next decade; and Create a sense of urgency to develop and deploy a new innovative National Health System Policy Framework that effectively provides adequate universal healthcare coverage for Nigerians, halts capital flight."
The Founder and Chief Medical Director, Outreach Medical, Dr. Efunbo Dosekun stressed the need for an Information Communication Technology (ICT) based approach to enhance patients' care, which is the core of primary health care, as well as improving health outcomes.
In his presentation, "Providing Healthcare Insurance for Lower Income Groups: A Global Perspective" a Senior Life and Heath Client Relationship Manager, Africa Swiss Re, Mr Bode Olajumoke, stressed the need to close the protection gap through financial inclusion, which he said is the corner stone in socio-economic development and economic growth, adding that Nigeria has failed to keep the 2001 Abuja Declaration on Health Investments
"The current trajectory of investment in healthcare sector is not sufficient to support the current population of Nigeria and is at best mundane in its aspirations to support the future national healthcare needs," he maintained.
Speaking on the need to increase medical personnel, the Head, Shell Health, Dr. Ajike Oladoyin said with the current growth rate of doctors and nurses, only 99,120 doctors and 333,494 nurses would be available by 2030, which implies a shortage of about 50,120 doctors and 137,859 nurses.
Meanwhile the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, in his Key note address said the budget allocation for health as a percentage of the total annual budget has been on the decline, with the re-basing of Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as it attained the status of middle income country according to World Bank ranking, leading to significant reduction in donor support.
He stressed that recent studies conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) show that about four percent of the population are covered on any form of protection mechanism for health, leading to over six percent out-of-pocket expenditure on health, with millions of Nigerians dead due to lack of access to healthcare.
He added that for Nigeria to achieve the UHC, certain things would be considered which include population coverage, cost coverage and the size of health services to be offered to the people, adding that with a high percentage of people living in poverty and in rural areas, government has a lot of burden to bear in ensuring a substantial improvement of the status quo within the next ten years.
Adewole reiterated the government's UHC agenda of providing 1000 Primary Health Centres (PHC), adding that the initiative requires solid legal and policy backing.
He, however, noted that the FMOH will "crowd-in" private sector investment in health through various innovative mechanism, including an impact Bond for malaria, which seeks to attract more private investments to close existing pragmatic gaps in malaria elimination with support from the World bank, as well as presenting health expenditures an investment that yields huge returns to Nigeria's GDP through creation of jobs and increase in productivity.