Minister: Free health services not sustainable Says NHIS gulped N4.1trn James Emejo The International Finance Corporation (IFC) Monday said it would require a total of about $4.5 billion to make qualityhealth services accessible to Nigerians.
Specifically, it said at the national level, it would require about $3 billion to fix the health system while the bankable financing need for Primary Health Institutions (PHIs) alone is estimated at $1.5 billion.
The corporation, in a new study titled: ‘Health in Africa Initiative: Private Health Market Studies, Nigeria,’ which was launched day at the Nigeria HealthcareInvestment Summit taking place in Abuja, said effort should be made towards prioritising support to other health sub-sector including hospitals, clinics, laboratories and nursing home to allow them have access to finance.
It said pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), including medical equipment suppliers appeared to be better positioned to access financing from various sources with relatively minimal DFI facilities.
Also the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the present free public health policy had become unsustainable as only about eight per cent of the Nigerian population had benefited from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
This, according to him, fell short of the federal government’s target to have at least 30 per cent of the population covered by 2015. The minister said it had become necessary to have other sources of funding for the health sectors as about N4.1 trillion was needed to implement the NHIS between 2010 to 2015.
He said a lot of incentives were underway to encourage private sector investment in the country’s health sector.
Chukwu said part of the measures already taken to attract private investment to the sector was by allowing hospital medical equipment to be imported duty-free into the country.
He added that going by the way the health system was currently being operated, free medical delivery could not be sustained if left to the government alone.
However, medical practitioners argued that there was urgent need for government to address the current conflicting regulatory framework to pave the way for the transformation of the sector.
Speaking at the occasion, former Health Minister, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, who moderated a panel discussion on the health transformation agenda, said for the current health transformation agenda to be successful, the bealth bill currently before the National Assembly should be incorporated into the Nigerian constitution. However, the IFC report stated, among other things, that regulatory mechanisms to enhance quality of healthcare needed to be improved, ensuring the enforcement of laws and regulations in the sector.