The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has called on state governments across the country to remove the embargo placed on employment of health workers and to invest in hiring more health workers if Nigeria is to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Ehanire made the call on Thursday, April 6, 2023 at a press briefing to commemorate the 2023 World Health Day (WHD) in Abuja.
He said personnel budgets of health facilities should be spent on maintaining more numbers of frontline healthcare workers to improve quality and effective service delivery.
He further disclosed that, the Federal government was responding to issues of health workers migration by putting in place policy measures that ensure more health workers are trained, recruited, retained, and better remunerated.
In his remarks, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Molumbo stated that, WHO had been supporting the Nigerian government across all levels to build the capacity of health workers to improve health resources and services provided in the country.
Molumbo disclosed that WHO would be leading an initiative to train 25 per cent of nurses and midwives in 25 low-income countries by 2025.
He said the international agency joins the call for more investment in human resources for health, by increasing pre-service training and implementing strategies to attract, retain and ensure optimal performance of highly motivated health workers in Nigeria.
He explained that, at the heart of ‘ ‘health for all’ was the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, where people could have access to affordable, equitable, good quality and sustainable health care.
“In the WHO African Region, around 25% of health expenditure comes out of people’s pockets and as a result, hundreds of millions of people in the African region have been pushed further below the poverty line due to spending on health.”
Molumbo said the “National health strategies should position primary health care as the entry point into a health system which not only treats ill health but also prevents illness and promotes good health.”
On her part, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Ulla Mueller,
She noted that the WHD was a reminder that innovative ideas and new ways of reimagining PHC with highly resourced HRH are sine qua non to ‘building back better.’
“We need a strengthened health system that is resilient, people-centered, and user-friendly with HRH adorned with warmth, compassion, and spirit of egalitarianism,” she added.
World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April annually to draw attention to specific health topics of concern globally.
The theme of the WHD 2023 is “Health for All – Strengthening PHC to Build Resilient Systems,”. The day also coincides with World Health Workers Week which runs from 7 to 11 April with the theme “Investing in the Health Work Force”.