The Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has restated Federal Government’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal three and other national health targets in the country.
SDG goal 3, which has 13 targets, focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of people.
Ehanire gave the assurance at the 3rd Annual Conference of Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHEJ), in Abuja.
The minister said that the country was committed to meeting the targets by implementing policies and programmes that would ensure coverage of women and children.
“Government would implement policies and programmes on women and children who are most hit by deprivation and inability to access healthcare services. This is viable in budgetary provision for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.BHCPF should be accessed directly by Primary Health Care facilities for direct impact on citizens at the grassroots.”Dr. Ehanire said.
He urged the association to continue to promote thorough, fact-based and progressive discourse in the heath sector.
The Chairman of Representatives Committee on Health, Mr Tanko Sonunu, in his address said the house would work towards improved health budgeting.
The keynote speaker, Dr Gafar Alawode, the Country Director of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Health Policy Plus Project, said Nigeria needed to do more to improve its performance toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
According to him, UHC means that all people and communities can use the preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need without experiencing financial hardship.
“UHC cuts across all the health-related SDGs and it has a number of objectives which are: equity in access to health
services relative to need and not the ability to pay.The quality of health services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving services and financial risk protection for all.’’ Dr. Alawode said.
He also urged journalists to support the ongoing reforms in the health sector such as BHCPF and State Social Health Insurance by ensuring adequate coverage of activities.
The President of ANHEJ, Mr. Hassan Zaggi, used the conference to appeal to government agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and international organisations to partner with journalists for effective coverage of the sector.
“NGOs and international organisations should see us as reliable partners they could work with to get the needed health information to Nigerians at all levels.”
One of the resource persons, Dr. Ejike Oji, urged Nigeria to stick with Nairobi commitment for the good of Nigerian women.
The country Director of the International Society of Media in Public Health, Mrs. Moji Makanjuola, advised health journalists to do more of community reporting which would benefit rural women and children.
The Country Director of Marie Stopes Nigeria, Mr. Effiom Effiom, commended ANHEJ for a job well done and pledged continued support.
Similarly, the Country Director of Africa Health Budget Network, Dr. Magashi Garba, commended ANHEJ for effectual reportage of the Nigerian health security.
ANHEJ awarded seven Nigerians who contributed to the development of the health sector in the country.
Some of the awardees were Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Former Minister of Health, Mrs Moji Makanjuola and Mr. Godwin Odemijie veteran broadcast
journalists, and Dr Godwill Okara, a renowned medical laboratory scientist amongst others.
The theme of the conference is “Nigeria’s Growing Population: Any Hope to achieving UHC and SDGs?.”