Abuja, Nigeria: In a bid to address a long-standing exodus of medical professionals and revamp its ailing health sector, Nigeria has unveiled a major investment initiative aimed at achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030. President Bola Tinubu, speaking at the launch on December 12th, described the initiative as a cornerstone of his “Renewed Hope” promise to Nigerians.
Financial Commitment and Infrastructure Revamp:
The initiative, dubbed the Nigeria Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative (NHSRII), promises significant financial backing. President Tinubu highlighted a substantial increase in healthcare funding in the proposed 2024 budget, currently before the National Assembly. This, coupled with the redesigned Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), aims to inject at least $2.5 billion into the primary health system by 2026.
Focus on Primary Care and Transparency:
The initiative emphasizes bolstering primary healthcare infrastructure. A major goal is to double the number of fully functional Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) nationwide by 2027, linking them to a comprehensive emergency care network. Additionally, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, emphasized the importance of transparent resource allocation and reporting, ensuring accountability to all stakeholders.
Tackling Brain Drain and Affordability:
President Tinubu directly addressed the issue of the medical professional exodus, urging Nigerian doctors abroad to return and contribute their expertise. He also challenged developed countries, who benefit from Nigerian healthcare professionals, to consider investing in training facilities within Nigeria itself. To address the rising cost of medications, the government plans to establish a pooled procurement system for critical pharmaceuticals in 2024, aiming to make life-saving drugs more affordable.
Long-Term Vision: Manufacturing and Independence:
The initiative looks beyond immediate challenges, aiming to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on foreign healthcare imports. Prof. Pate outlined a medium-term plan to increase domestic manufacturing of generic drugs, medical devices, and vaccines, eventually making Nigeria a regional hub for healthcare production.
International Appeal and Cooperation:
The NHSRII launch coincided with Universal Health Coverage Day, highlighting Nigeria’s commitment to global health goals.
The event featured the signing of the Health Renewal Compact by Federal and State Governments, alongside Development Partners, underlining the collaborative nature of the initiative.