Some stakeholders in the health sector, on Monday, called for increased financing of the sector and accountability to address critical challenges.
They made the call in Abuja at a Strategic Retreat of the 7 Health Committees of the National Assembly under the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage and Health Security (LNU).
Dr Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank Group, said that the rates of maternal and infant mortality in the country were still alarming.
Okunola said that accessing healthcare in the country often required high out-of-pocket expenditure, leading to financial burdens and difficult decisions for families.
He said that the responsibility to address high out-of-pocket expenditures lay with decision makers, specifically those in positions of power who could provide public funding for healthcare.
Okunola said that without sufficient public funding, the situation would not improve.
“Nigeria’s large population is seen as a potential strength, but the country needs to reduce the number of births and child mortality to truly benefit from the demographic dividend,” he said.
He said that neglecting basic healthcare issues such as malaria and diphtheria had led to a growing population with hypertension and cancers.
“These further strains the healthcare system and calls for attention to preventive measures and early interventions,” he said.
He urged leaders to prioritise healthcare financing and called for better utilisation of available resources.
He said that there was the need to consolidate funding from various sources into a unified pot to improve the effectiveness of healthcare spending.
“This approach requires transparency and accountability from the government.
“Despite the current challenges, we express hope for the next four years and acknowledge the capabilities and dedication of our lawmakers,” he said.
Mr Emmanuel Alhassan, Nigeria Coordinator of Prevent Epidemics, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), said that decisions made during the retreat would shape successes in the next one year to four years.
He highlighted GHEI’s systematic approach to advocacy which, he said, was aimed to deliver successes in low and middle-income countries.
He also highlighted collaborative efforts of lawmakers and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator in shaping the legislative agenda for the next four years.
The Chairperson of the Health Sector Reform Coalition, Mrs Chika Offor, called on legislatures to improve resources to address the challenges and gaps in the country’s health sector.
Offor also called for collaboration between legislatures, civil society organisations and the media to step up advocacy to ensure accountability and transparency in the health sector.