The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has restated the Federal Government’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal three and other national health targets in the country.
SDG goal 3, which has 13 targets, focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of people.
Ehanire said this at the opening of the 3rd Annual Conference of Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHEJ) on Thursday in Abuja.
The minister said that the country was committed to meeting the targets by implementing policies and programmes that would ensure coverage of women and children.
He added that the “government would implement policies and programmes on women and children who were most hit by deprivation and inability to access healthcare services.
“This is viable in budgetary provision for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“BHCPF should be accessed directly by Primary Health Care facilities for direct impact on citizens at the grassroots.”
He, however, urged the association to continue to promote thorough, fact-based and progressive discourse in the heath sector.
Dr Gafar Alawode, the Country Director of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Health Policy Plus Project, said Nigeria needed to do more to improve its performance toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
According to him, UHC means that all people and communities can use the preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need without experiencing financial hardship.
He said “UHC cuts across all the health-related SDGs and it has a number of objectives which are: equity in access to health services relative to need and not the ability to pay.
“The quality of services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving services and financial risk protection for all.’’
Alawode urged journalists to support the ongoing reforms in the health sector such as BHCPF and State Social Health Insurance by ensuring adequate coverage of activities.
He also called on the journalists to conduct investigative journalism to raise the accountability bar in the sector.
Mr Hassan Zaggi, the President of ANHEJ, urged government agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and international organisations to partner with journalists for effective coverage of the sector.
He said “NGOs and international organisations should see us as reliable partners they could work with to get the
needed health information to Nigerians at all levels.
“As parts of efforts to motivate and encourage actors in the health sector to continue to work for the improvement of the health status of our people, we have selected a few exceptional Nigerians who contributed to the development of the sector over the years for the award.
“We worked closely with these people and we know their works.
“We, therefore, call on Federal Government to continue to provide an enabling environment for medical and health experts to put their best for the growth of the sector.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ANHEJ awarded seven Nigerians who contributed to the development of the health sector in the country.
Some of the awardees were Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Former Minister of Health, Mrs Moji Makanjuola, a veteran broadcast journalist who worked and retired with NTA and Dr Godwill Okara, a renowned medical laboratory scientist.
The theme of the conference is “Nigeria’s Growing Population: Any Hope to achieving UHC and SDGs?.”