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Weak PHC system, workers shortage a problem – Minister

The Federal Government has identified dysfunctional Primary Health Care systems and shortage of health workers as a major contributor to the slow pace of Nigeria’s journey to Universal Health Coverage.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made this known in Abuja at the National Health Dialogue organized by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development with the theme, Primary Health Care Financing: Role of State and Non-state actors.

According to him, the National Health Account reports published over the past decade indicated that the expenditure on primary healthcare has been sub-optimal, with significant spending on curative healthcare.

The Minister who was represented by the Director of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr Ngozi Azodo, noted that the inadequacy in funding for the primary healthcare system has negatively impacted the delivery of services such as immunization and maternal and child health services.

“Robust primary healthcare financing in Nigeria would require collaborative efforts of both state and non-state actors. While state actors in Government continue to play their roles to ensure that more public resources are available for the primary healthcare systems, a significant proportion of the progress with financing for Primary Health Care is dependent on the role of non-state actors.

“The private sector, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, the media, faith-based organizations, trade unions, professional organizations, academia, community groups and private citizens alike can all contribute to financing primary healthcare in Nigeria”

Similarly, the Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, also disclosed that the National Health Account estimates that 16.6% of the Current Health Expenditure is from Government (Federal, State, and Local Government Areas), 11.8% is from Development Partners while 3.6% is from Insurance.

According to him, this leaves the remaining 70.5% of healthcare spending in Nigeria including primary healthcare to households who pay out-of-pocket with catastrophic potentials.

“On her part, the Director of PHC System Development, in the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Ngozi Nwosu who highlighted Federal Government’s efforts to improve PHC, said the introduction of the National Health Act 2014 is to provide access to health services for all Nigerians and increase investment through the Basic Health Care Provision Fund which is at least 1% CRF.

Reporting by Emmanuel kutara; Editing by Chinasa Ossai, Omotola Oguneye