In Nigeria, out-of-pocket payments account for over 70% of all health expenditures – creating a critical barrier to care for the poor. If you don’t have the money, you can’t access care. Nigeria has had a national health insurance scheme since 2005, however, its coverage remains extremely at low; less than 2% of Nigeria’s total population of 186 million people. In July 2017, the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health, convened the first ever summit
on the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria, bringing together 100 legislators from across 36 states of the Federation to work towards shared objectives, as outlined below –
1. Increasing financing appropriations to the health sector,
2. Ensuring prompt and adequate release of allocated funds for expending
3. Ensuring timely passage of relevant high quality health laws
4. Enhancing sustained learning among lawmakers
5. Strengthening the oversight and accountability functions of lawmakers to review the quality, responsiveness and efficiency of state implemented health projects
The platform aims to strengthen institutional cooperation to advance legislative activities on health matters between state level institutions and between federal/state level institutions. HFG Nigeria will be working with other partners to coordinate and also ensure that the network achieves its proposed objectives.
During the July proceedings, Professor Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, encouraged Senator Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President and physician, to lead the national discussion on implementing the National Health Act, which would secure an additional $125 million in annual funding for primary health care through a 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) allocation. This funding would allow states with their own health insurance schemes to prioritize vulnerable groups.
Dr. Saraki assured the Minister that if the 1% CRF for basic health care is included 2018 budget request for health, then he would guarantee that it will be protected and passed by the Senate.
At the end of the two-day event, the legislators produced a communique of action from the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage. During the presentation, the legislators of the communique resolved to work towards the success of the Network and to ensure Nigeria makes significant progress towards UHC. Dr. Gafar Alawode concluded the event with a vote of thanks on behalf of the planning committee.