NIGERIA – The Nigerian Federal Government (FG) has pushed for creation of a Basic Health Care Provision Fund to enable Nigerians to access free medicare at the local level irrespective of their ages.
The fund is a special account created by the Federal Government where a percentage of the national budget is being paid into to support basic healthcare facilities in all states of the federation.
The Basic Health Care Provision Fund was the funding provision of the Federal Government established under the National Health Act, 2014 (NHAct) for the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.
The Director-General of Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR), Mr. Dasuki Arabi explained that the fund was aimed at upgrading basic health care facilities in all the 774 local governments of the federation.
He stated that it was compulsory for the government to pay that percentage into that special account.
“If the facilities and medical supplies have been upgraded, every person that is ill can access the facility as long as you are in the local community where the facility is and it is free,” he assured Nigerians.
Arabi pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak exposed the healthcare sector in Nigeria, noting that the sector was almost zero, hence the reason for setting up the basic healthcare provision fund.
He added that the previous presidential administration had set the record of paying the first amount of the contribution into the health fund account.
However, the states could not initially access the funds because coordination issues at the national level among other things that they are facing.
“We brought the state governments’ stakeholders together to understand themselves as well as address challenges they have been facing in order to access the fund and benefit the citizens,” Mr. Dasuki reaffirmed.
In more latest developments, the FG revealed that the N10 (US$0.024) per litre sugar tax on beverages introduced in the recent Finance Act would be used to invest in Nigeria’s public health facilities to fight the spread of non-communicable diseases.
The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora disclosed that the new tax was introduced to discourage excessive consumption of sugar in beverages which contributes to obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
The right policies in place is what pushes lawmakers to advocate and make the necessary interventions to improve the health population.
The Minister also added that the primary aim of the tax is to also reduce the consumption of sugary beverages in Nigeria.
Additionally, the Federal Government has set up a committee on health sector reform to look at issues in the sector such as strikes and brain drain.
Brain drain is one of the serious challenges that Federal Medical Centre in Abuja is facing because a number of doctors, nurses and pharmacists have left the place within the past year.
Chief Medical Director of Federal Medical Centre in Abuja, Prof. Saad Ahmed described brain drain in the sector as a threat to the provision of healthcare services to the public.
“At the moment, the committee on health is calling for memoranda from members of the public and other stakeholders in order to help it in its assignment,” he said.
Moreover, leaders of the health sector are requesting to be given some leverages to replace those that were leaving in order not to break health services offered.