Chris Steven, Abuja
Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate has urged development partners and all stakeholders in the health care sector to address the sector holistically in order to achieve universal healthcare coverage for Nigerians.
He particularly said he was opposed to the idea of having a programme ‘to attack Tuberculosis another for Malaria, and another for Meningitis, saying “let’s address healthcare holistically.
Saraki spoke in Abuja on Monday at a Summit on the legislative network for universal health coverage.
“To our developmental partners: I strongly believe that we must stop attacking specific diseases and start addressing healthcare as a whole. I disagree with having a program to attack TB, another for Malaria, and another for Meningitis. Let’s address healthcare holistically”, he said
According to him, healthcare coverage should be a right of all Nigerians even as he lamented that previous administrations in the country were unable to achieve universal health coverage for Nigerians.
He however remarked that the launch of the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage is a major step towards guaranteeing health coverage for all citizens.
“Unfortunately, others that came before us were not able to achieve universal health coverage for Nigerians. We must make the difference. If our healthcare system covers Malaria, Immunization and Antenatal, our country will be free of most healthcare issues!
“When we started to work towards universal health coverage in Kwara, we partnered with international agencies and the private sector…
“It’s sad that we underestimate the number of Nigerians who don’t go to healthcare centers because they can’t afford it. This must change!
“Once people know that they won’t always have to pay out-of-pocket for healthcare, more people will start visiting healthcare facilities” he said.
Saraki added that there are a lot of international and private sector organizations that are ready to partner with the government to deliver universal healthcare.
He disclosed that the National Assembly will ensure that the healthcare sector receives proper funding according to the Health Act When in the 2018 budget.
“I’ve asked the Hon. Minister of Health to let the National Assembly know what the cost for Universal Healthcare for all Nigerians will be. Once we have this cost, we will know what amount the Federal Government will pay; what the states will pay; and what our international partners will chip in”, Saraki said