No one should be denied right to healthcare – minister

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Nigeria’s Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole has described healthcare as a human right that no one should denied of.

The minister said this in Abuja today at the National Stakeholders ‘Validation Meeting of the second National Strategic Health Development Plan framework. According to him, putting money in the health sector should not be regarded as an expenditure; instead, he said it an investment that would yield dividends.

He recommended that stakeholders should not envision the sector as expenditure-oriented, instead, he asked that they see it as an investment that will yield returns.

“Health is an investment because there is going to be return on investment.”

He said that there was a sense of urgency for governments at all level s particularly the state governments to have the political will to place high premium on budget financing for health because over time budget for health was grossly inadequate. He noted.

Adewole said: ‘’Health is an investment issue, health is security and above all, health is a human right issue, the right to health should not deny anyone’’.

He explained that the stakeholders meeting was convened to validate the framework that would be used to develop the second National Strategic Health Development Plan(NSHDP) adding that the strategic framework was underpinned by a range of core principles which includes prioritization of activities, high impact interventions, efficiency and effectiveness of service deliveries, focus on results, sustainability and accountability.

He said that the Federal Government was partnering with the State governments to revitalize the Primary Healthcare centres adding that ailments like Malaria, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and a host of others are better treated at the Primary Healthcare level.

He stressed the need for accurate and credible health data which he said was key to healthcare planning and resource allocation in the health sector noting that most times data are either not credible or not available.

He underscored the importance of transparency and accountability adding that for the state governments to get additional funding, they should give their financial reports. He said: We are making it a precondition for you to get another additional funding, you must show us your financial reports’’.

Earlier, Dr,Francis Ukwuije,Senior Health Economist, Department of Health Planning Research and Statistics in his paper presentation titled :’’ National Health Accounts (NHA) 2004-2014 Key Findings and Policy Implications noted that out-of-pocket expenditure as a percentage of Total Health Expenditure(THE) was still high stressing that for Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage(UHC) at the benchmark of 30-40% ,a greater effort needed to be put into scaling up coverage on insurance specially through States Health Insurance Schemes(SHIS).

He noted that compared with government and other schemes, the contribution of donors was low prompting the need for Nigeria to look more inwards for health resources rather than depending on donors for critical health interventions.

He said that there was need to appropriately engage the Ministries of Finance and Budget at the federal and states level for budget increase for health to enable Nigeria achieves Abuja declaration of 15%.

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Paul is a university lecturer, medical researcher, extensively published author and freelance contributor. He holds a MSc degree in cell biology and genetics, and is a PhD candidate of the University of Ibadan.

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