General - May 20, 2018

WHA71: Prioritize investment in public health, WHO tells President MBuhari

As the 2018 World Health Assembly begins Monday in Geneva, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to prioritize investment of domestic resources in his country’s public health system towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa’s most populous nation.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

This was contained in a recent letter written by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, to all heads of state including President Buhari calling on them “to take three concrete steps” towards increasing access to healthcare services and reducing out-of- pocket spending.

“I commend your commitment to, and ambition for, the health and well-being of the people of your country, and to this end wish to support you to move further down the pathway towards UHC. These strides can only be achieved, however, with the convergence of unwavering political commitment, prioritized investment of domestic resources, and a strategic plan for health tailored to national context,” wrote Dr Ghebreyesus.

He said the Buhari government’s actions towards UHC will not only help ensure that millions of Nigerians were lifted out of poverty but will also provide “an essential platform for demonstrating the significant economic returns to a nation that can be achieved from marked investments in the health sector.”

“Decades of lessons in global public health have taught us that bold objectives require paradigm shifts in action. Realizing the ethos of the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that no one is left behind, in resonance with WHO’s mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable, warrants such a landmark global movement towards UHC. I ask you to join me in catalyzing this global movement. The prize is a safer and fairer world for all people and better health for all,” concludes WHO’s chief.

It is worthy of note that the Nigerian Senate had last week implemented one of the key components of the country’s National Health Act (NHA) into law i.e the inclusion of 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation in the 2018 annual budget; this will go a long way in reducing out-of-pocket expenses towards achieving UHC.

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