SFH’s Support Boosts Universal Health Coverage in Lagos, Ekiti
The Society for Family Health, SFH’s years of support towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is boosting services in Lagos, Ekiti, and other states.
Managing Director, Omokhudu Idogho at the just concluded 5-day retreat for stakeholders to mark 40 years of service disclosed, “as an Organisation, we have contributed to a quarter of Nigeria’s CYP progress, a third of Insecticides Treated Nets(ITN) distributed in Nigeria, about 60m reaching 25 million households, provided health services to more than 3m children and averted close to 180,000 HIV infections in the last 40years.
Idogho submitted that the contribution had seen the population-level impact with maternal mortality down from 1000 to 512/100,000 live births and infant mortality coming down from 132 to 54 per 1000 live births”.
SFH Holds New Strategic Work Retreat, Celebrates 40 Years
Idogho who appreciated all stakeholders for their contributions in the last forty years urged all to “reignite the personal purposes and connect that to a vision where every African life maximizes its full potential and the continent becomes the beacon it was designed to be”.
In his keynote address, Lagos State Commissioner for Health Professor Akin Abayomi described SFH as one formidable partner that consistently supports the State in human development and capacity building, resource Mobilisation and has been shaping health outcomes have been the bedrock towards achieving Universal Health Coverage for the State.
Abayomi who was represented by his Technical Assistant, Dr. Olaide Okulaja at the 5-day retreat for partners of SFH to mark 40 years, disclosed that it is unveiling a number of innovations that would make health insurance mandatory for all residents of the state.
Okulaja noted that registration of persons in the informal sector has commenced in the state so that government can capture the vulnerable members of the society into its social alliance nest.
According to Okulaja, “It has now become mandatory for every resident of Lagos State to enroll under the State Health Insurance as provided by the National Health Insurance Act 2022 because the government must work towards building a sustainable healthcare system for all and facilitate access to the poor”.
He said it is the model that has emanated from the National Health Insurance Act which has just been signed into Law by the President.
“Basically, everybody, whether in the formal or informal sector will pay for health insurance in the state health insurance scheme. We will include both formal-private, formal-public, and informal sectors in that situation.
“For those in the formal sector economy of our State, they may essentially be paying a percentage of their income versus a flat fee of N8,500 while those in the informal sector would still be paying the old N8500. It is like what obtains in a tax system
“And for those who cannot pay for healthcare for themselves, they would be highly subsidized by the State government so that they can access care when they are identified as not being able to pay for themselves”, explained Okulaja to Healthstyleplus.
Abayomi’s address titled: “Reflection on Accelerating Progress to UHC-What next”, revealed the various milestones prepared for the innovations that will ensure mandatory take up of health insurance coverage by everyone who lives in Lagos.
The government he said, has commenced with renovating some public facilities and introducing reforms in the healthcare package for residents right from Primary Healthcare to the other levels to make health-seeking behaviour attractive to residents.
“Part of the reforms we have begun is to send all our medical directors to Lagos Business School to get first hands-on in business training and how to effectively run their hospitals with an effective financing scheme and to make healthcare attractive,
“HEFAMA whose business is monitoring facilities in the state has had some of its services outsourced and franchised so as to make it more efficient and run as business unusual”, said Okulaja.
According to Ekiti State Commissioner for Health Dr. Oyebanji Filani, the past experiences of Ekiti have sharpened the resolve to promote an inclusive health insurance model that will ensure everyone in both formal and informal sectors are captured “as government alone cannot finance healthcare for all resident”.
Filani who is also the Chairman of the Health Commissioners Forum of Nigeria noted that Ekiti State is already collaborating with other states through the Health Commissioners’ Forum to draw inspiration on the financing models that are working especially as the state is mostly an agrarian society with many leaving in rural communities where health-seeking behaviour is largely limited.
Filani, identified some key challenges that could hinder achieving maximum state health insurance coverage including Poor child spacing practices, risks at childbirth to mother and child, and poor access to high-impact health interventions which he noted often drive underperformance of health outcomes in Nigeria.
The Ekiti commissioner commended Federal government intervention in revisiting the NHIA in 2021 and the support of partners like SFH in creating opportunities to improve health outcomes in the states.
Senior Health Specialist, World Bank Group Dr. Olumide Okunola warned that unless concerted efforts are made to define the real health packages we should have and get people to subscribe to, the achievement of UHC may meet brick walls.
He advised that there should continue to be Financing arrangements for pooled spending which will ensure more people have access to healthcare without recourse to out-of-pocket payment which he said is “unrealistic for good health outcomes”.
Also speaking, President of the Board of Trustees, Professor Ekanem Ikpi-Braide pointed out that SFH in 2022 impacted 22m lives “and is acutely aware that a lot more is needed to make a difference for women and children among whom mortality rates remain stubbornly high at above 512 per 100,000 in Nigeria, 1300 per 100,000 in Sierra Leone”
Braide is concerned that a woman’s chance of dying in pregnancy is still 1 in 22 compared to 1 in 4900 in developed health systems.
Professor Braide expressed the commitment of the Organisation to deepening partnership to ensure improved health outcomes in the journey to successful Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.
The Society for Family Health was founded in 1983 by Late Justice Ifeyinwa Cecilia Nzeako, Late Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti and Late Mallam Dahiru Wali who on reflecting on the poor health outcomes of Nigerians thought it right to advocate, deliver services and drive for measurable impact on health equity, justice and human rights for all citizens.
Towards achieving UHC, SFH believes in the power of an integrated Primary Health Care system, shaping and strengthening the total market for health to deliver more health for communities and generate better health outcomes.