Revitalise Primary Health Centres To Achieve Universal Health Coverage – CISLAC

Chioma Umeha

To address shortage of infrastructure, health personnel and equipment  at the Nigerian primary health care system (PHC) a not for profit organisation, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre  (CISLAC) has said that revitalisation of primary health facilities should be made priority by state governments in order to achieve universal health coverage.
Canvassing for this in Lagos, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa, the Executive Director of CISLAC, said “the situation of primary health care in Nigeria worsens, as financial and political commitment from the government is lacking.”
Musa also noted “In cases where there have been financial pronouncements, they have been partially or entirely not implemented.  Inadequate funding and non-commitment of state governors and local government authorities to provide skilled manpower at the primary health care centers impede adequate health intervention.
“Thankfully, health is on the concurrent list of the government. This signifies that if indeed the government wants to pay attention to the prevalent health condition, it can easily be achieved through serious implementation of health policies and redeeming of pledges at all levels.”
The CISLAC boss, who was represented by the programme officer, Mr. Murtala Muhammad, commended the Saving One Million Lives Initiative initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017 was geared towards revitalising over 10,000 primary healthcare centres across the country.
Similarly, Dr. Jibril Mohammad Bashar, from health policy and systems development unit, department of community medicine, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, in his presentation, “Financing for Primary Health Care: Harnessing Domestic Funding Enabling Policies And Legislation,”  called for the 15 per cent of national budget to health
Dr. Bashar explained that in order to attain a meaningful impact in the health sector in Nigeria, government needs to invest a bench mark of 15 per cent of its national budget to health.
He said, though the Lagos state government is one of the best in health investment with N6,617 per person annually, it still has a funding gap of N64.2 billion, especially in its 2018 budget.
In his remarks on health care financing, Dr Bashar said that there should be appropriate financing mechanism that will provide sufficient financial protection so that no individual household is impoverished because of the need to use health care services.
He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that Nigeria’s out of pocket spending for health is 95.7 per cent instead of the recommended benchmark of 20 per cent that means Nigeria is 75.7 per cent away from the acceptable benchmark.
Dr. Bashar said, “Nigeria has to prioritise public spending in health according to its own morbidity, mortality and availability of funds as a great degree of impact can be made in making accessible health intervention at a low cost through sustainable domestic funding.