71st World Health Assembly: DG Harps on Health Systems Strengthening as Nigerian Government Affirms Commitment to UHC

Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole
Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole

GENEVA – (Federal Ministry of Health Report) – The 71st World Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) has commenced in Geneva on Monday May 21st 2018 with a call for health systems strengthening across the nations.
While addressing the Assembly, the Director – General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that strengthening the health systems everywhere is important towards assuring the prevention of future outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases. He noted that although the spread of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC) to an urban city is already a concern to WHO, the organisation is of the view that the challenge has not reached a global emergency status as the problem is being tackled by the WHO and the Government of DRC.
According to the body, a preventive high – risk population targetted vaccination has commenced in DRC which is believed to have made the situation better than the 2014 Ebola outbreak. He promised that the WHO will not settle for a world where the people would have to chose between health and poverty as a result of the out of pocket expenses on healthcare. He intensified that Universal Health Coverage (UHC ) is the only way by which governments can address the health needs of their citizens.
Tedros Ghebreyesus identified three keys to success in providing healthcare to the people which comprises of a stronger WHO, more efficient and effective in its operations and a strong leadership team. He noted that the WHO needs more funds, calling on state actors to extend their support with high quality and flexible funds. He later promised that there would be value for such monies spent by focusing on the real and pressing needs of the people. He also explained that the second key is political commitment.
He espoused that the world is in a time of unprecedented political will as most Heads of Government he has spoken with have affirmed their belief in Universal Health Coverage. He however called on Governments to allow the nationals identify the Primary Health Care services that they need which should not be determined and handed over to them by someone else.
In continuation, he mentioned that partnership is the 3rd key to success in achieving its mandate. Adding, there are many actors on the global health with needed resources, skills and ideas such as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non – Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. He hinted that the WHO is poised to strengthen partnership with all actors to achieve the common goal of providing healthcare to all.
In his message to the Nigerian Delegation to the WHA, the Health Minister, Isaac Adewole noted that the Nigerian Government is on the right direction in its efforts to achieve UCH with the strong political will demonstrated by the present administration. He inferred that the initiative has resulted in the launch of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) tagged: “Huwe” to be financed by 1% of the country’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, already approved by the National Assembly. He also adjured that Huwe is an Ebira word which means “life.”
“The BHCPF is a fund allocated by NASS to address the basic health needs of all Nigerians. This marks the beginning of the journey to UHC in Nigeria”, Adewole disclosed. He further expressed the resolve of the Nigerian Government to strengthen its partnership with WHO and other actors in global health, including the Nigerian private sector.