By Adeola Ogunlade
Former Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, has appealed to the government to increase its budgetary allocation to the sector to improve its universal health coverage.
Idris said this at the bi-ennial conference of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), Lagos State chapter at Lagos Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja.
The conference, tagged “Universal Health Coverage: Defining the bottom line”, featured speeches, presentations, and panel discussions on various aspects.
Idris said increase in the health budget is germane because of the shortage of health facilities and human resources needed to expand access to health care for all irrespective of the social status in the state.
He noted: “We need to prioritise our activities and funding towards public health as it has a ripple effect on the productivity of the people.”
Admitting that the state does not have the funds to develop the sector, he advised that the government should partner the private sector because they have funds that can be tapped into.
In her words, the Chairman of APHPN, Lagos chapter, Dr. Tolulope Olufunlayo, called on the federal and state governments to make the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) mandatory as it has remained a drawback in the structure in the NHIS programme.
She noted that the insurance health care scheme was welcome and a pointer to the country’s resolve to ensure universal health coverage that captures everyone in the formal and informal sector. He however stressed that should be made mandatory for everyone.
Olufunlayo, who lauded the state government that has made it mandatory for citizens to be registered, said it would encourage everyone to take advantage of the scheme.
She challenged healthcare practitioners to engage the community members and serve as an interface between the government and the people. “When people don’t know they can change their health behaviour and even when they know, you can’t force them. We have not asked the community what they wanted and decide what they want and how they want it. We must engage the community and they must be the drivers of their own health. As community health physicians, we need to engage the community to own their health and make decision for their health.
“Local government health chain is one critical structure in ward health committees. Without these committees, they will not be able to access community health provision fund. We need that structure,” she said.
Also, the General Manager of Lagos State Health Management Agency, Dr. Peju Adewusi, appealed to residents to take advantage of the health insurance scheme in Lagos as it is mandatory for everyone.
She noted that what causes mortality and mobility is the ability to take important decisions and the finance to pay for the service, adding that huge medical bill pushes people to poverty, especially in Lagos.
“Sickness is no respecters of any person and health insurance is not about sickness as a pregnant woman is not sick nor a child taken for immunisation is not borne out of sickness. Health insurance gives peace of mind such that any health condition covered under the scheme; you know what to do should you be in a position to have such condition.
“Over 500, 000 residents in Lagos have registered under the scheme. The formal sector has be able to experience health insurance mainly through NHIS and private insurance plans, but a big chunk of people in Lagos do not have access and they form about 70 per cent of the people living in Lagos,” she said.
right to complaint. There will be call centers to address their concerns and needs”, she said.