Centre for Health Economics Development (CHECOD) in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health hosted the maiden edition of Kenneth Ojo’s memorial symposium titled “Financing Universal Health Coverage in Highly Informal setting: Economic Imperatives of State Health Insurance and PHC Revitalization”. The symposium moderated by Dr. Francis Ukwuije of W.H.O had in attendance Professor Eyitayo Lambo, the former minister of health and participants from National Health Insurance Scheme, W.H.O, World Bank, USAID, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), EU-SIGN, Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria and other organizations. Through the keynotes address, panel discussions and audience discussions by way of questions and answers provided takeaway points in the symposium.
The Executive Director of CHECOD, Dr. Olumide Taiwo delivered the talk: “Why we are here, who will pay for health?” The presentation based on 2010-2014 National Health Account data, showed the need for State Health Insurance Scheme to reduce out-of-pocket spending for the vulnerable group. The trends in NHA, indicates increase in health spending, however taking into account population growth, per capita health spending is reducing. Feasibility study on Community Based Health Insurance Scheme carried out by CHECOD and National Health Insurance Scheme across the country shows that households are willing to pay for health insurance as a step towards Universal Health Coverage. The symposium also featured the presentation of the CHECOD Vision by the Director of Programs, Oluwole Smile. He enthusiastically rekindled the passion and vision of the founding chairman of CHECOD, Dr. Kenneth Ojo, to go beyond health financing to health informatics and actuaries science.
Highlight of the symposium was the keynote address presented by Professor Eyitayo Lambo, the former minister of health. In his presentation, Prof Lambo stressed the three objectives of UHC- equity in access, quality in healthcare service and protection from financial risk- universal health coverage is a destination, no country has 100% coverage. The path to UHC in Nigeria must be home grown, there must be political commitment, subsidies and compulsion to engage the informal sector, though that may be challenging. UHC cannot be achieved without revitalizing PHC.
The first panel discussion titled “UHC financing: what have we learnt and what is the way forward? gave answers to key questions on the challenges of NHIS and empowering the states to set up health insurance scheme. To involve the informal, they can take advantage of existing structure like the Trade Union to increase coverage. The second panel discussions- “Achieving UHC through PHC revitalization: Challenges and prospect”- brought to the fore that pooling funds is not the critical issues, but health facilities and human resource to improve the supply side of healthcare. In the years to come, the Centre will continue to have the symposium to provide a fertile ground for participants to share ideas on improving the health system. We look forward to our next gathering and are eager to hear success stories from those taking the lead in improving the health system in Nigeria.