Nigeria launches new basic healthcare package
As part of efforts geared towards transforming the health care landscape in Nigeria through better public funding of health, a provision was made for Basic Health Provision Package (BHCPF) in the 2014 Health Act. The Fund is meant for provision of basic minimum package of care through strengthened Primary Health Care Systems and expanded health insurance coverage including improved access to emergency services. However, the BHCPF which should be statutorily financed from not less than 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government and other sources of funding was not appropriated in the previous Appropriation Acts since 2014.
As a demonstration of commitment and responsiveness of the 8th National Assembly to the health care needs of Nigerians, the Senate, under the leadership of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki renewed its commitment towards implementation of the BHCPF and chart a relentless course of action.
Realizing the need to form a critical mass to mobilize the national and state lawmakers including development partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage, the first of its kind, was conceived and launched at a high profile summit on the 24th and 25th of July, 2017. The Legislative Network platform provided the impetus to galvanize support and leverage statutory roles of lawmakers to reform the health landscape in Nigeria. At the aforementioned Legislative Network Launch, the Senate President made a commitment to Nigerians that BHCPF will be protected if included in the 2018 Appropriation by the Executive Arm of Government.
While the Executive did not include the BHCPF in the 2018 appropriation bill submitted to the National Assembly, the Senate embarked upon a phenomenal task of ensuring inclusion of BHCPF in the 2018 appropriation and its effective implementation. To this end, the Senate mandated its Committee on Appropriation to work out a modality for accommodating the Fund in the 2018 appropriation. The Senate Committee on Health through the Technical Advisory Group on (TAG) to the Legislative Network on UHC held series of sensitization, capacity building and media parleys to galvanize support towards implementation of the BHCPF and reiterate the commitment of the National Assembly towards the cause.
Today, I am happy to inform you that the Senate President and the Senate Committee on Health have lived up to their promise to Nigerians by including the BHCPF in the 2018 Appropriation Bill passed by the National Assembly yesterday. While the decision of the National Assembly to make a provision for the BHCPF in the 2018 appropriation may be misconstrued as ‘padding’ in some quarters, I want to emphasize that the decision has adequate legal backing and in fact, doing otherwise amount to breaking the law.
I would like to thank the Senate President, Distinguished Members of Senate Committee on Health, Members of the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases of the Senate and The Federal House of Representatives. Special thanks go to the Technical Advisory Group to the Legislative Network on UHC and various development partners including the World Bank/IFC, the USAID and its implementing partners, HFG and HP Plus, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its implementing partner PACFaH, DFID/MNCHS2, HSCL, Representative of the Media and other Civil Society Organizations.
I would like to encourage you all to sustain the momentum as we still have daunting tasks to ensure that BHCPF is not taken out of the final approved budget and ensure its successful implementation. By this important milestone achieved today, we have demonstrated our collective and sustained will to harness and align our human and other resources towards transforming the health landscape in Nigeria.
While we thank each and every one of you for supporting us to reach this milestone, I would like to stress that the time to celebrate is not now. The time to roll out the drums is when all Nigerians irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, income level and geographical location are able to access needed health care without suffering any financial hardship. Therefore, we have to remain vigilant to ensure that nothing scuttles our collective will towards actualizing the dream of affordable universal health care for all Nigerians. It is my vision that one day, Nigeria health care system will be a model for other Africa countries and the country will be a reputable destination for medical tourism.