The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Nigeria has the highest out-of-pocket expenditure on health in West Africa.
In 2020, Nigeria’s out of pocket expenditure as a share of health expenditure was at the level 74.7%.
The WHO representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, at a retreat for commissioners of health from 36 states of the country, regretted that more Nigerians are falling into poverty due to ill health while many do not have access to essential health services they need.
Mulombo also expressed worry about the increase in non-communicable diseases, which he noted is compounded by the high burden of communicable diseases and multiple outbreaks.
“This indeed entails shifting focus from mere concepts to actions with demonstrable results for greater resilience in the health sector, even in the face of emergencies.
“As leaders of the health sector very close to the people, it is demanded of you now more than ever to keep PHC high on the agenda of your governments and ensure priority investment in its development.”
Mulombo charged the commissioners to note that considering the political economy of Nigeria, their position is unique “in steering your states towards the right direction in line with Federal Government policies and agenda despite the prevailing challenges based on your state specific contexts.”
Deputy Representative of the United Nation Education and Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, Ronnak Khan, in a goodwill message, noted that effective collaboration and coordination at the federal and state levels is required for Nigeria to effectively and sustainably address her multiple health system challenges.
Khan expressed the hope that with a new government in place, there would be improvement in the health sector.
“So far, the signals coming from the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare and from various health commissioners indicate that the new dispensation brings with it a unique opportunity for innovation and efficiency in responding to the many challenges facing the health sector,” he stated.
Former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi called on the Nigerian Dental and Medical Registration Council (NDMRC) to seize the license of young health workers until they completed between three to five years service in the country.
Fayemi, who was keynote speaker, said the NDMRC should use the advantage of the National Health Service scheme to ensure that trained newly licensed health workers serve the country first before exporting their services to other countries.
“That will enable them to spend some time, a fixed period, not less than three, five years.
“Whilst you are doing that, your license is held by the Nigerian Dental and Medical Registration Council that gives you that license. And once you’re done, you can decide whether you want to stay or you want to leave to.