Osinbajo Presents Healthcare Reform Report To Buhari As He Proposes Health Institutions Commission Few Days To Handover

The Presidential Health Reform Committee led by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has presented its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Osinbajo presented the report on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, during the valedictory Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2021 approved the setting up of a Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the development and implementation of a Health Sector Reform programme for Nigeria.

Presenting the report, Osinbajo said that the committee proposed, among others, healthcare guarantees for all Nigerians registered on the National Social Register.

He said; “We also took extensive proposals from the committee members and the organisations they represent, including the National Assembly, state Governors, unions in the health sector and the private sector.

This was followed by a retreat to brainstorm on several policy options, which arose from the submissions.

“Finally, we held meetings in technical sub-committees and in plenary to streamline the contentious issues and agree on a consensus position with the assistance of consultants, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who were engaged to support the committee.’’

The vice president said the committee’s deliberations had been  productive and afforded it the opportunity to set Nigeria on the path to Universal Health Coverage.

According to him, the committee is mindful that investing in health will enable the country to unlock its immense potential and ensure that all Nigerians, regardless of their social status can access quality health services.

Osinbajo said: “However, we realise that this will require structural reforms, hence the intentional effort to cover the poor and ensure the mobilization of large amounts of private investments.

The report addresses this in three ways–first is the use of the National Accountability Agreement on health performance.

“Second is the proposal for a National Partnership Agreement on Health Sector Reform Recommendations to be signed by all states and the FCT.

“Third is the strengthening of institutional arrangements for pandemic preparedness and response; this strengthening of institutional arrangements will be a national arrangement.’’

Osinbajo said that achieving Universal Health Coverage for Nigerians was the essence of the report.

He said that such coverage could be realised through the prioritisation of government spending on health and boosting of per capita health expenditure through the National Health Insurance System as the preferred public financing arrangement.

According to him, such an approach is one where the national or state health insurance authorities would benefit from the general budget transfers from the relevant federal or state governments.

He added: “The report therefore recommends healthcare guarantees for all Nigerians registered on the National Social Register—currently 12 million registered households—equivalent to about 55 million individual Nigerians.

“The report further recommends that the share of total health expenditure following our health insurance schemes must be more than 10 per cent.

“The committee is fully aware of the governance and institutional arrangement of the reform programme.

“We have proposed a number of institutional changes including the establishment of the National Tertiary Health Institutions Commission whose functions will be similar to that of the National Universities Commission and a National Quality and Healthcare Standards Commission.

Osinbajo said that the report also proposed that vaccine manufacturing in Nigeria should be seen from the perspective of a national health security imperative rather than as a commodity production. 

“Mr President, we do not have any illusions that these reports are easy to implement; beyond the financing requirements, there will be need for global expertise and collaborations; in this regard, local and international development partners will be much needed.

“For this and other purposes, we have proposed the setting of a programme delivery unit in the Office of the President.

“This independent but empowered unit will monitor and drive the report; important parts of the report are the draft National Health Amendment Bill and the draft amendments of other relevant bills.

“Mr President, while it is our duty to prepare this comprehensive roadmap towards universal health care in Nigeria, it has become the responsibility of the incoming administration to take this journey to  its much desired destination and we wish them well in that patriotic enterprise.

“Again, we thank you, Sir, for this opportunity; and on behalf of the Presidential Health Reform Committee, it is my special honour and privilege to present to you, the Health Reform Report and Draft Bills,’’ he said.

By Temitope Hassan