Universal Health Coverage Cannot Be Achieved Without Technology – Expert

The Country Director, Pharmaccess Nigeria, Dr. Njide Ndilli has challenged the country to make a concerted effort to embed technology in the running of its healthcare system if it is to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

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Ndilli gave the call on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, at the country’s maiden edition of the Health Systems Emerging Solutions Forum held in Abuja.

According to her, the use of technology would increase transparency in the system adding that Nigeria was far from achieving UHC because people do not trust in the system.

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Speaking on the exigency for Forum, Emerging Solutions Forum, Managing Partner, DGI Consult, Dr. Gafar Alawode said, “reflecting on the modest results that we have achieved so far and the great initiatives being implanted by a wide array of other stakeholders, we realised the importance of having a platform that showcases the various innovations and interventions being implemented locally and internationally, for better understanding and to enhance the chances of sustainability, replication and ultimately, impact at scale”.

Dr. Alawode further stated that, the Forum was an avenue to dwell on how to use what is strong to change the narrative about what is wrong:

“Across the country, examples abound about productive efforts geared towards health system repositioning, from Yobe State, where the health indices have improved significantly, to Gombe State where digital technology has reduced the number of ghost workers, to Nasarawa State, where Equity Fund and fruitful community engagement have expanded access of the poor to quality health care, to Delta State where the responsiveness of the political leadership has given health insurance coverage to almost 1.5 million residents. I believe we have a lot to showcase and learn from”, he said.

In his goodwill message, Director General National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Kelechi Ohiri acknowledged that, the theme of the event: Optimizing resources for accelerated progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was very important and timely, especially in light of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act, which provides mandatory health insurance and a Vulnerable Group Fund.

Ohiri added that the two visions of the Act were critical requirements for Universal Health Coverage. However, “we are concerned about mobilizing the resources they require and optimizing those resources so we can get value in essence, more health for our money”, he said.

The NHIA Boss therefore lauded DGI Consult for taking the initiative to create the platform to facilitate the exchange of lessons, ideas, and experiences for strengthening capacity building and health systems.

On his part, Commissioner of Health, Yobe State, Dr. Mohammed Lawan Gana explained that the Forum was looking at all those innovative ideas that had worked in other realms, both nationally and internationally with the aim of replicating them in other areas for maximum impact.

“The theme, how to optimize resources is apt. Resources are scarce now, they are shrinking by the day. There’s a lot of effort in mobilising resources to the system. If you don’t use what is available optimally, you don’t invest it in the right places and efficiently, you will not be able to get the required result.

“For years, millions of dollars have been spent on health but the outcomes are not commensurate to the investment that has been made. This is about how these resources can be utilized optimally, and how these investments will be aligned and attached to the result so that whatever dime we spend, we have a commensurate result that is associated with it”.

He informed that, getting people in the informal sector to purchase premiums was a herculean task, nevertheless, his state intends to achieve 65% coverage in the next two years.

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