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FG Unveils Health Sector Dev Roadmap, Recruits 50,000 Community Health Extension Workers Nationwide

The Federal Government has unveiled a nine-point medium-term plan to ramp up the push towards Universal Health Coverage with the recruitment and deployment of 50,000 community health extension workers as well as revamping federal teaching hospitals across the country. Minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made this public recently in Abuja during the the unveiling of the Nigeria's health sector roadmap which was guided by the President's "Health Sector Next Level Agenda of 2019. Ehanire enumerated the agenda to include: implementation of Mandatory Universal Health Insurance in collaboration with State governments and the FCT administration; operationalization of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) in collaboration with partners and agencies and the recruitment and deployment of 50,000 community health extension workers as well as revamping Federal Teaching Hospitals across the country. Others include: collaboration with private sector investors to establish high-quality hospitals in Nigeria; reduction of gaps in all health-related SDGs by at least 60 per cent and Reduction in the current imbalance between primary, secondary, and tertiary health care. Also in the plan include: active collaboration with the private sector to create a large number of wellpaying jobs for Nigerian youths; and contribution to the realization of Mr. President's June 12 promise to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years. The minister who explained the position of the Federal Ministry of Health as the key Ministry of the Federal Government said the Ministry played an important role in President Buhari's Next Level Agenda for human capital development and for socio-economic growth. "Our Ministry is responsible for the National Health system and its performance, and provides strategic support to states, local government areas, the private sector and development partners. It coordinates development of required Human Resources for Health and the infrastructure needed, he stressed. Ehanire also reeled out the achievement and challenges of the Ministry which was further highlighted by the heads of departments and agencies of the ministry who took turns to make presentation as it concerns the roadmap to the health sector development, going forward. The minister noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had brought attention to the Health Systems of all countries like never before. "Respected and otherwise resilient systems have been nearly brought to their knees by the sheer volume of patients they have to be catered to, and some have had to face embarrassing scarcity of simple items like face masks or sanitizers. "All countries will no doubt be re-examining their Health systems which is why it has been said that the COVID-19 outbreak offers an opportunity to restructure, or even rebuild health systems. He pointed out that even though Nigeria's health system has not fared so badly so far in the global COVID-19 outbreak, "but we nonetheless have good reason to also examine our not-so-strong Health system, which is why weare here gathered today with stakeholders, partners, donors, civil society, academia, well-wishers and the media. While assuring Nigerians that "despite disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic, progress has been made on all points, Ehanire added that COVID-19 itself emphasized the need and provided opportunity to strengthen the health system and better coordination among the component institutions and along all tiers of government, as well as chances to improve synergy with partners, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders. In his closing remarks, minister of state for health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora, stated that the meeting was borne out of an urgent need to review the performance of the Health Sector. He noted: "We are on the right track to achieve our set goals and objectives, but also to identify weaknesses, gaps, disruption and quickly save the sector while improving on our successes. While commending all the Stakeholders especially the Media for their commitment and support in driving the agenda, Dr. Mamora enjoined everyone to collaborate, partner and join hands with the ministry in moving the Health Sector forward as according to him, health services is not a "solo event but team event. He stated that it was an opportunity to render account to Nigerians on how the Health Sector has fared so far in delivering its mandate in line with Mr. President's vision and assured Nigerians that government would not rest until it achieve quality and affordable health care for all. In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi said the event was for the media and other stakeholders to get the chance to seek clarifications, support and contribute towards a Greater Health Sector 2021. He added that the event provided the opportunity to begin the rollout of the road map so that Nigerians would fully participate in supporting its successful implementation. Highlights of the event include the unveiling of the revised Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) implementation guideline. The National Health Act (2014) established the BHCPF as one of the key drivers to attaining equitable health for all in Nigeria. Under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the BHCPF implementation began with the appropriation and release of at least one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund as provided by the Act. This has set in motion the mechanism to fast track achieving UHC for all.

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