Abuja, 7 September, 2019 - To ensure synergy and achievement of maximum legislative impact towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) supported the first-ever strategic retreat of Principal Officers of the five Health Committees of the National Assembly (NASS) in Abuja from 4-5 September 2019.
The main objective of the retreat was to define the first-ever collective Legislative Health Agenda for UHC for the next four years and acquaint Principal Officers on the current health policy thrusts in Nigeria’s health sector.
In his welcome address, the Convener and Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Senator (Dr) Ibrahim Oloriegbe appreciated the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), WHO, and other partners for their support towards this unique initiative. He gave assurances of his readiness and that of his colleagues to work differently in collaboration with the Executive and partners in ensuring the health and wellbeing of all Nigerians especially the most in need.
At the retreat, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire reiterated that primary healthcare is the cornerstone of UHC in Nigeria. He promised to focus aggressively on implementing the National Health Act (2014), while expressing optimism that the harmonious working relationship between the Legislators and Executive will lead to accelerated impact on the health of the people.
Also speaking during the event, the Officer in Charge (OiC) of WHO Nigeria, Dr Peter Clement, underscored the need for the Legislators to deploy their unique position towards achieving UHC in country. “It is my anticipation that this legislative process can also strengthen dialogue in the public health policy arena; with the ultimate goal of promoting health and keeping Nigeria safe, improving quality and efficiency, taking broader accountability on the health sector and health outcomes, improving partnership and coordination among the key actors,” he stated.
He further expressed the readiness of WHO to continue with the ongoing support, which includes extending the learning experience from the legislative network for UHC in Nigeria to other countries in the African region.
Finally, the Legislators collectively noted the huge challenges facing the health sector in Nigeria and resolved to align their functions of legislation, appropriation, and oversight towards achievement of UHC in Nigeria.
Principal Officers from FMOH, Civil Society Organizations, development partners of the heath sector including WHO, European Union (EU), World Bank, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID), Global Affairs Canada, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, attended the retreat.
Dr Francis Ukwuijie. Email: Ukwuijef [at] who.int; Tel: +234 803 475 5925
Ms Hafsat Danmaisoro Email: danmaisoroh [at] who.int; Tel: +234 703 7857 277