By Linda Ike
The Federal Government has retreated its commitment to ensuring universal healthcare coverage in the country.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Ehanire Osagie disclosed this on Thursday at the 2022 induction ceremony of the West Africa Institute of Public Health in Abuja.
The institute has inducted 33 new fellows, 20 members and awarded Certificate of Merit to 14 persons.
It also gave Fellowship Awards to the First female New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clerk, Dr Joanne Liu, former Liberian President, Helen Johnson-Sirleaf and 10 others for their contributions to public health.
Speaking at the event, Osagie said the Government’s commitment through universal health coverage is for every Nigerian to have access to quality healthcare services across the country.
He said, “Nigeria needs services across board and across the side, men, women, children, adolescents and even the elderly, so we are very much committed to that irrespective of where you are in all nukes and corners of Nigeria and also irrespective of gender, religion or tribes”.
Represented by the Director of Family Health, Federal ministry of Health, Dr. Salma Anas, the minister said commiting more on universal healthcare coverage will change the health sector situation in Nigeria for a better performance.
He lamented that the resources for the work is limited, though assured that the sector will maximise the resources through effective coordination and leverage on additional resources in the country.
Osagie explained that the ministry is planning to mobilise home grown solutions to address the health challenges in Nigeria.
He also said that the sector will collaborate with Private sectors, Civil Society Organisatíons, Communities, Philanthropists and Individuals to enable the industry build a resilience health systems that can stand the test of time.
“Government will not be left alone to deal with health issues, As we have seen what we went through during the covid-19 pandemic, we will leverage with the private sector in Nigeria and strengthen relationship with the West African Institute of Public Health.” Osagie said.
He urged the Public health fellows to tag the opportunities with the skills and knowledge that exist in the institute especially in capacity building of the health workers, research and all the different aspects of health in Nigeria and also the implementation of health impact interventions in the country.
“The Ministry of health has out up a high level committee including technical experts and they are looking into how we can reverse the chained of the brain drained and also step up and look for active in our capacity development, we also look at how to retain our human resources for health in the country at all levels not only medical Doctors but the Nurses, Midwifery, Laboratory Scientists, Pharmacies, and even primary health care workers
“We are advising and urging them to remain in the country so that we can have a better health systems for Nigeria at the same time build more capacity and increase our production of human resources by creating a better working environment for health workers to be able to deliver their optimum and best performance. The committee is still in progress,” the minister explained.
The President, Academy of Public health and Director General, West African Institute of Public Health, Dr. Francis Ohanyido said the Institute which is the leading regional non-state health development organisation is focused on building a strong network of highly skilled and competent public health practitioners in the region.
Ohanyido noted that many of the new fellows and others awarded had contributed to Public Health, stating that their new status is a call to duty.
He said, ”Whatever level you are in your profession, you should go all the way to contribute your quarter to the betterment of society in your field. So, we look to you as advocates and champions of public health, not only in Nigeria but globally for betterment of society.”
“This award is just a call to action, you should not see it as a status thing or vanity, it is based on your track records”.
Speaking on the Government’s poor intervention to health issues in Nigeria, Ohanyido advised that Government should work with experts and advisers who have the capacity to manage the structures on ground effectively.
He stressed the need for Government to be empathetic to issues affecting the masses, sighting the COVID 19 pandemic as a lesson to Nigeria and other countries.
Ohanyido also urged the stakeholders to support capacities, shape policies and ensure adequate financing of health interventions in Nigeria.
On his part, Public health Expert, Mike Ekpo who also received award for his contributions to the public health sector in Africa for the past 30 years, said finding home-grown solutions to health challenges is the key to success.
He added that the National Health Development Plan should be followed by the government diligently.
A public health fellow and Strategic Consultant, Micheal Markaji
stated that the global pandemic clearly indicated the lapses in the health systems and infrastructures in many counties.
He said with public health institute, Government should look at the policy and research designed to mitigate health risk when they occurred .
The newly inducted members were welcomed into the Academy after they took the oath of office as directed by the President, Dr. Francis Ohanyido.
The new President of the Academy, Dr Ferhat Khan, expressed gratitude to the Organisations, health institutions and professionals for their partnership with the Institute.