Expert Advocates 'Sin Tax' to Fund Health Insurance and Achieve Universal Health Coverage
introduction of a 'sin tax' to finance health insurance and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.

Universal Health Coverage Illusion without Functional PHCs — Experts

Public health experts have said that Primary Health care remains the veritable platform for guaranteeing access to quality healthcare, achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the country’s development context.

The experts also declared that to achieve access to quality health and UHC, the required investments must be made, particularly in strengthening subnational governance and ownership through the full implementation of Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR).

In his submission, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib said efforts of all stakeholders like the medical officers of health were required to address the challenges to our primary healthcare system.

Shuaib delivering a keynote address at the 2023 Conference of the Association of Medical Officers of Health of Nigeria (AMOHN), Lagos State Chapter, said that primary healthcare, urged Medical Officers across the country, to maintain and intensify advocacy to reinforce the current strong political will to invest in Primary Health Care Revitalisation, prioritising human resources for and implementation of the Vulnerable Group Fund with PHC facilities as Primary Care Providers under the National Health Insurance Authority, NHIA.

Represented by a Chief Medical Officer, Dr Oritseweyimi Ogbe, Shuaib in the presentation: “Overview of National Primary Healthcare Under One Roof Performance: Nigeria’s Journey Towards Universal Health Coverage”, also urged medical officers to support improvement in PHC performance and accountability by leveraging their membership to support surveillance, monitoring, supervision and programme implementation, particularly mass campaigns such as ongoing outbreak response and similar strategies.

“AMOHN must remain open and continue to seek concerted multi-sectoral collaboration with government, private sector, partners including the military to promote PHCUOR and adherence to national standards across the PHC sub-sector.”

He explained that the current national strategy for revitalising PHC in Nigeria was focused on strengthening the PHC systems and building resilience for the attainment of the SDGs and UHC.

Read Also: Kaduna Govt Purchases N2.9bn Hospital Equipment for 290 PHCs

“A revitalised PHC system would significantly improve access to quality care by Nigerians and leapfrog the benefits of implementing the NHIA Act, especially as it relates to the Vulnerable Group Fund. PHC Revitalisation and optimal PHC service delivery cannot be achieved without the collaboration of all stakeholders especially at the state and LGA levels where the AMOH are active,” Shuaib added.

Corroborating his views, the Immediate Chairman of, the House Committee on Health, Dr Olanrewaju Tejuoso, said the old primary healthcare system was riddled with infrastructural decay, inadequate human resources, lack of essential drugs and other supplies and suffered setbacks from the fragmentation of healthcare services and governance, poor funding, ill-equipped and poorly motivated healthcare workforce.

“PHCUOR is aims at reducing the fragmentation of primary health care services, making it accountable and also to set Nigeria on a determined pathway towards achieving UHC. This policy is based on the principles of “Three Ones”: One management. One plan and One monitoring and evaluation system.

He urged medical officers to look at innovative ways to drive immunisation uptake in their jurisdictions and ensure sustenance of the gains of immunisation, through the maintenance of adequate immunisation coverage of all vaccine-preventable diseases.

On his part, the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of AMOHN, Dr Tunde Osoba, explained that the association is a body of public health physicians who serve as gatekeepers to Primary Health Care; the bedrock of any responsive healthcare system.

Osoba said the conference was an opportunity for them to reflect on the activities of the past and appraise issues affecting the PHC system.

He said the theme: “Overview of National Primary Health Care under One Roof Performance, Nigeria Journey Toward Universal Health Coverage” , was apt at a time when the Primary healthcare system was being repositioned to address challenges militating against the achievement of UHC.

“The Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) needs to be fully implemented in Lagos State as it is the solution to several of the country’s challenges from human resources for health, monitoring and evaluation, sustainable PHC funding to the minimum service package, governance and leadership.”