Stakeholders in the health sector have called for the integration of the public and private sectors to reduce maternal mortality, noting that such an integration is an effective strategy for reducing the incidence in the country.
The recommendation was made during a webinar organized on Tuesday by the Nigeria Health Watch with funding from ‘MSD for Mothers’, themed, “Building Resilient Maternal Health Systems through Private Sector Integration”.
The initiative of MSD for mothers, which is worth US$ 650 million, helps to create a world where no woman has to die while giving life.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the webinar provided an avenue for stakeholders to advocate to policy-makers on the importance of private sector integration in Nigeria’s mixed health systems.
The webinar was also to provide actionable steps to effectively engage the private sector to build resilient and sustainable maternal health systems that deliver quality maternal healthcare services in the country.
The president of the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria, Dr. Pamela Ajayi, said that progress can be made when the private and public sectors work together to improve health outcomes in the country.
She said that there was a need to invest in health systems in the country, but for this to work, there must be alignment and incentives to encourage collaboration.
According to her, the private sector broadly covers maternal health in the country, accounting for 60 to 70 per cent of services.
She said that the maternity period was supposed to be a time of joy, not anxiety.
“The private sector has a crucial role in improving maternal health outcomes in Nigeria,” Dr. Ajayi added.
According to the Acting Unit Head, Health Systems Governance and Policy, World Health Organisation, Mr. David Clarke, the Country Connector for Private Sector in Health has recorded impact in ensuring that governments achieve Universal Health Coverage, and health security for their population by harnessing the public and private health sector’s collective national expertise and resources.
Clarke also reaffirmed the commitment of the WHO Country Connector to evolve from helping countries with COVID-19 support, to assisting governments to improve on their capacities to improve health systems and outcomes.
On her part, the former Commissioner for Health, Kaduna State, Dr. Amina Mohammad Baloni, said the state government looked into private sector integration with a framework of improving the supply chain of medicines and its accessibility to benefit people living in hard-to-reach areas.
“When we talk about accessing private care in Nigeria, most citizens do this through Patent and Proprietary Medine Vendors (PPMVs),” she said.
Baloni said that there was a need to employ quality standards across the private and public sectors to ensure efficient health delivery for all in the country.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer, Delta State Contributory Health Commission, Dr. Ben Nkechika, said that there was a need for participatory cooperation among stakeholders to improve the health outcomes of Nigerians.
He said that a resilient healthcare system was one in which the patient can access the healthcare they need when they needed it, without substantial financial catastrophe.
For Mr. Temitayo Erogbogbo, Global Advocacy Director, MSD for Mothers, there is an urgent need to integrate the private sector to aid the financing of health systems and improve the health outcomes of Nigerians.
He said that a lot of attention has not been given to the quality of care and the outcomes, and that has to change in the country.
He said quality matters as the country was losing more people through poor quality and lack of access to care across the country.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs. Vivianne Ihekweazu, said strengthening maternal health in the country remains a challenge, despite the fact that the country continues to account for a quarter of the global maternal deaths, according to a recent report.
“These are mothers, sisters and friends who should not be dying while giving birth in the country,” she added.
Ihekweazu said if the country were to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.1, there was a lot of work for it to do to promote maternal health outcomes in the country.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Bunmi Oyebanji Obot, Programme Manager, Nigeria Health Watch, said that the objective of the webinar was to enable stakeholders to gain practical insights into opportunities, best practices, benefits and the importance of public and private sector engagement.
They also heard how private-sector partnerships can strengthen maternal health care in a mixed health system, and identify areas for policy development that will foster private-sector integration and commence the establishment of frameworks for action.
“Be better informed on the key success factors for public-private partnerships and the opportunities for scaling up such initiatives,” she said.
Obot noted that public-private sector integration can be a powerful strategy for reducing maternal mortality in the country
“By working together, the public and private sectors can leverage their respective strengths and resources to improve maternal health outcomes and ensure that all women have access to quality maternal health services,” she said.
NAN recalled that Nigeria has the second highest maternal mortality rate globally, with about 58,000 pregnant women dying yearly while giving birth, which is regarded as a tragic statistic that deserves greater attention and action from both the public and private sectors.