From Emmanuel Iyoho
Stakeholders and participants at the just concluded two -day workshop on the right to health for every Nigerian have called for the full implementation of the National Health Act and the National Health Policy as a means of improving the health of the population.
They advocated for a review of National laws, policies and practices in other to ensure conformity with the plethora of international standards binding on Nigeria.
These formed parts of the communique issued at the end of the two-day capacity building workshop on the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
The workshop as convened by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) an Abuja based nongovernmental organization in collaboration with USAID’s Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement held in Abuja recently.
The communique noted that Health interventions should be fully mainstreamed beyond the Ministries and department of Health across the three tiers of government in the country.
It also noted that a number of key government agencies need to be engaged for the realisation of the right to health as they included the Ministries of Women Affairs, Education and Information.
Others included Environment, Water Resources, Finance/Budget/Planning and Economic Development, Justice and Law Enforcement Agencies, Bureau of Statistics, Anti-human Trafficking Agencies, the Legislature as well as the Judiciary, etc.
Participants resolved that Prepaid health insurance should by law be made universal and compulsory with a social clause that the public budget pays for indigent Nigerians who are unemployed or earn below the minimum wage.
To improve the transparency and accountability of the National Health Insurance Scheme and National Primary Health Care Development Agency etc, participants maintained that there was need for the publication of details of disbursements to states and local governments and allocations to specific primary health care centres through an electronic portal and in the print and electronic media.
On public funding for Primary Health Care in Nigeria, they called for an increased as a foundation to attaining Universal health coverage (UHC), saying taxation on sugar, carbonated drinks and other lifestyle and health taxation as well as surcharges as stipulated in the 2021 Finance Act be channeled as special funds to the health sector.
Participants also resolved that to achieve UHC, a National Emergency should be declared in the Health Sector and the contours of the emergency would involve specific, concrete and targeted steps towards addressing the systemic and systematic challenges facing the sector.
UHC means that all people have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the lead director of CSJ, EzeOnyekpere told participants that the workshop was convened to build the capacity of the aforementioned stakeholders on the right to health in the context of Nigeria’s poor health indicators.
Onyekpere, who is also the facilitator of the project said the workshop sought to equip participants with a full understanding of the normative content of the right to health in Nigeria.
He said the workshop also sought to equip participants with strategies and methodologies for enforcing and realizing the right to health; and ideas for collaboration between stakeholders for realising the right to health.
Our Correspondent reports that the workshop was part of a series of activities under the Programme; Improving the Realisation of the Right to Health in Nigeria, which seeks to enhance respect for extant laws and policies, reform laws and policies where gaps exist as well as mainstream transparency and accountability in public health sector expenditure.