A multi-stakeholder solution to tackle funding challenges of the health sector is being galvanized by the federal government, in its efforts to guarantee health security, which in turn boosts economic growth.
To this end, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed organised a one-day Financing Health Security Workshop in Abuja on Tuesday to glean stakeholder inputs towards dismantling roadblocks to sufficient funding for the sector.
Speaking at the event which attracted the World Health Organisation (WHO), Resolve To Save Lives (an initiative of the global public health organization Vital Strategies), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), among others, Ahmed said that the COVID-19 pandemic has rung a wake up call to Nigeria to urgently develop the health sector to forestall being handicapped in a time of pestilence.
The Minister, who was represented by the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze noted that those who hitherto doubted the need to fortify the health systems at all times had a change of mind when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020 and destabilised the global economy.
“Everyone who doubted the need to strengthen the health system was cleared when COVID-19 erupted.
“Nigeria strives to work in sync with the International Health Regulations. This workshop will unearth the benefit of adequate health funding. We will advocate for improved health at state level”, he said.
In his remarks, the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said the collaboration between the health sector stakeholders and finance ministry needs to be strengthened so that everyone is on the same page and appreciates why adequate health sector funding remains critical regardless of the competing critical demands amid paucity of funds.
He explained that being medically equipped remains a sure way of withstanding health challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to 3 million deaths globally. According to him, the pandemic has forced every nation to plan and redesign its health architecture.
“Every country is re-planning. Radical changes are key to forestall the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
Progress in defeating the pandemic is fragile. India was where we were in January but today, they record 350,000 cases of COVID-19 in one day.
“We’ve used the pandemic to improve the health sector. From about five labs to about 120 molecular labs; though they’re not in standard they should be since we did them in a hurry. But we are not where we were early last year. We are grateful to our offshore partners and CACOVID, the private sector pool fund.
“We need to fund MDAs that have a bearing on health security. We should start planning and advocating with a purpose. We need to get into specifics. Our leaders have many challenges to deal with outside health with the available resources. But we need to identify what we must do in achieving health security”, he said.
Earlier in his goodwill message, a representative of
Resolve To Save Lives, Dr Emmanuel Agogo, Dr Agogo in his goodwill message noted that revamping the health sector should be a priority to withstand any health disaster.
He cited the ebola epidemic that affected some economies, leading to about $3 billion loss.
“COVID-19 will cost the world about $8 to 9 trillion. So, we need to get ready and prioritise health matters. We need to get ready before disaster happens”, he stated.