By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The National Assembly Thursday declared that Nigeria’s Mortality Indices remained extremely high despite huge resources sunk into the health sector over the years by government at all levels.
It accordingly called for prioritization of health security in the country on the template of Universal Health Coverage, which it added, cannot be achieved through the exclusive National Health Insurance Scheme being run by the Federal Government now.
Making the lamentation at a media briefing, Chairmen of the Joint Committee of both chambers on Health, said the issues have been put at front burner of discourse at the 4th Annual Legislative Summit on Health, slated for next week in Abuja.
Specifically the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central), in a written speech read at the briefing said actions by legislature have become critically necessary in view of the worrisome statistics.
He said “This actions by the Legislature have become critically necessary as the country’s mortality indices have remained extremely high with minimal improvement despite the magnitude of resources contributed to improve the statistics.
“For instance, the National Demographic Health Survey (2018) findings revealed that in the seven years preceding the survey, infant mortality rate was 67 deaths per 1,000 live births; under-5 mortality was 132 deaths per 1,000 live births; and Maternal mortality ratio, 512 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“Similar dismal indices are recorded across different health indicators and call for accelerated responses like this one, across different spheres of stakeholders to address the challenges giving rise to these’
He added that in addressing the problem , health security should be prioritized in the country through Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
According to him, in achieving that, the exclusive model of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) being practised, must be made inclusive by expanding its cope beyond the 5% of the population it covers to appreciable percentage of health care deliveries.
“Although the country is making attempts to take giant strides in its pursuit of Universal Health Coverage (UHC); these efforts and whatever achievements have been recorded could be quickly eroded if health security is not prioritized.
“This is obvious in the effect of the currently ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks that have greatly impacted the health system negatively.
“The approaches to ensure that health security is prioritized and at the same time the country’s UHC pursuit is not hindered is the focus of our discussions at this year’s 4th Annual Legislative Summit on Health”, he declared.
In his own remarks, the Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, Hon Tanko Sununu said there is need for amendment of the existing National Health Insurance Scheme Act for actualisation of the Universal Health Coverage and by extension, health security.