Mrs. Shaibu recently went to a primary health centre (PHC) in the Federal Capital Territory with her very sick infant child. Her baby was running a temperature and was refusing to eat. After consultations with a doctor, the baby was diagnosed with malaria and Mrs. Shaibu was given a prescription for urgently needed medications.
Instead of heading to the pharmacy to buy the drugs and start treatment, she remained seated in front of the doctor and begged to be given the drugs. She simply could not afford them. The cost of the drugs totalled 1,000 Naira, about US$2.76.
Mrs. Shaibu’s situation is common in Nigeria, which has the highest concentration of poor people in the world. Nigeria’s high rate of poverty, coupled with a long-neglected primary healthcare system and a rapidly growing population, has put immense pressure on the creaking healthcare system. As a result, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under the age of 5 daily. Nigeria also has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world.
How to #MakeNaijaStronger
Through Make Naija Stronger (MNS) campaign, ONE is campaigning with our partners to reverse these poor health outcomes by securing access to healthcare for all Nigerians.
The Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), a central feature of the 2014 National Health Act, is at the centre of MNS campaign. The BHCPF was designed to provide a basic minimum package of health services to Nigerians at PHC all over Nigeria. But it didn’t receive funding in the federal budget between 2014 and 2017.
It was finally funded in 2018, after intense campaigning by ONE and a broad coalition of civil society organizations, medical professional groups, youth and women’s groups and the private sector
2019 has seen further progress. The Federal Government launched the programme under the name Huwe, an Ebira word meaning “life,” with a mandate to deliver health services to the poorest 20.6 million Nigerians.
The Federal Ministry of Health, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and National Primary Health Care Delivery Agency (NPHCDA) are coordinating the delivery of separate but crucial planks of Huwe.
NHIS receives 50% of the fund for the provision of a basic minimum package of health services to all Nigerians through state insurance programmes. NPHCDA receives 45% of the fund to provide consumables, such as drugs and vaccines, and to fund the operations of PHCs. The Federal Ministry of Health oversees the provision of emergency medical treatment through an allocation of 5% of Huwe funds.
In order to access Huwe, each state must meet a set of broad administrative requirements, complete facility quality assessments, build capacity of staff, meet financial commitments and create structures to receive programme funds. Presently, all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory have signed on to implement the programme within their borders.
Making the promise of health care a reality
Despite this progress, obstacles remain to the full implementation of Huwe nationwide. States are at different stages of preparation, with some lagging far behind. There is also the need to ensure that funds are properly used and not diverted.
As Make Naija Stronger enters a new phase focused on supporting and monitoring the implementation of Huwe across Nigeria, it is more essential than ever for supporters around the country to take action.
Sign the petition, monitor implementation in your state and make it clear to the federal and state governments that Huwe must work. It is crucial for the millions of people like Mrs. Shaibu and her child who only survived and recovered due to the intervention of the kind-hearted workers at the PHC.
This Universal Health Coverage Day, Nigeria must recommit itself to delivering access to healthcare to all its citizens, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable. In order for this to happen, all of us need to join the campaign to realize Huwe’s full promise.