CSOs want President Buhari to attend UN meeting on UHC

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Wednesday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to personally attend the UN High Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) holding in New York on September 23.

Dr Uzodinma Adirieje, National Coordinator, AFRIhealth Optonet Association Nigeria UHC Advocacy Group (NUHCAG), made the appeal at a news conference in Abuja.

The CSOs include: Civil Society Engagement for UHC 2030, AFRIhealth, Nigeria Red Cross Society, International Federation of the Red Cross, UNAIDS among others.

Adirieje said Mr President’s presence at the meeting was for him to personally present Nigeria’s commitment to UHC2030, which was a global UHC2030 adopted by the UN requesting the Federal Government to also adopt.

“Ensure political leadership beyond health with commitment to achieving UHC for healthy lives and well-being for all ages as a social contract.

“Leave no one behind by providing equitable access to quality healthcare service to all people of Nigeria.

“Increase public financing for health to provide the necessary financial protection that supports healthcare seeking behaviours.

“Improve involvement of CSOs and citizens, transparency and accountability at all levels by establishing multi-stakeholders mechanism for engaging the whole of society for a healthier world.

“And invest heavily and continuously in health workers, including community health workers,’’ he said.

Adirieje defined UHC as ensuring all people have access to the needed key to promote preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services with good quality and at an affordable cost without the risk of financial hardship.

He said UHC was intrinsic to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 3, which the nation has signed to achieve by 2030, adding that UHC was critical for the attainment of all health related  SDGs.

Adirieje said UHC was a global priority affecting the life of every person, especially in low and middle income countries.

He said, according to WHO, at least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential healthcare services.

He added that about 100 million of the world’s population were being pushed into extreme poverty because they had to pay for health care services.

Adirieje said, about 12 per cent of the world’s population (over 800 million people) spend at least 10 per cent of their household budget on healthcare services, which was capable of pushing them into poverty.

The coordinator said since NHIS was set up in 2010, less than five per cent of the population has been covered by any form of health insurance.

He said that Nigeria was, however, still lagging in ensuring health equity as the richest people still have far more access to key primary healthcare services than the poorest people.

Adirieje noted that improving out-of pocket health expenses by households remains the major source of health financing in Nigeria.

This he said has raised from 64.6 per cent in 2003 to 73.8 per cent in 2006 and 76 per cent in 2017, as a percentage of total health expenditure.

Speaking on nutritional status of the average Nigerian child, he said stunting has only reduced from 42 per cent in 2003 to 37 per cent in 2013, `an improvement of just five per cent in ten whole years’.

Adirieje further mentioned that the NUHCAG, Nigerian Civil Society and CSOs were committed to collaborate with the Federal Government in achieving actions, transparency and accountability towards achieving UHC 2030.

Bilkisu Pai