On the 27th of July, 2023, Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative (SLNI), attended the Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC) meeting, chaired by Ms Chika Nwakafor from Vaccine Network. The meeting was convened with the support of Save the Children International. The meeting focused on the theme of “Improved Healthcare Financing for Revitalization of the Nation’s Health Sector” and marked the first in a series of discussions addressing the seven pillars of health system strengthening.
The Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC), consisting of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), played a vital role in advocating for health development issues and sustainable health reforms in Nigeria since 1999, particularly in the passage and signing of the National Health Act (NHA) in 2014. Concerns were raised about Nigeria’s slow progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) due to inadequate implementation of relevant laws, policies, and guidelines, as well as gross underfunding at all levels of the health sector. Issues such as poor leadership, coordination, and service delivery were also highlighted, along with the low health insurance coverage in the country.
The meeting resulted in the formulation of seven demands to the government, collectively representing the Health Sector Reform’s prayers (HSR):
- A plea to Mr. President Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu to allocate a significant portion of the N500 billion from the removal of petrol subsidy to provide health insurance coverage for at least an additional 30 million vulnerable Nigerians within the next 12 months. This move, costing approximately N450 billion, aims to increase health insurance coverage significantly and advance universal health coverage and health security.
- An appeal to the National Assembly (NASS) to prioritize UHC, ensuring that their constituency projects include procuring health insurance for their constituents through State Health Insurance Schemes, aligning with the President’s UHC agenda and other health sector revitalization efforts.
- A request for the National Assembly to amend the National Health Act (2014), specifically section 11, moving the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) funding from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to the Federation Account (FAC) and increasing it to 2%. This adjustment aims to make more funds available for Nigerians without requiring excessive counterpart funding from the states.
- An emphasis on state governments and State Houses of Assembly to prioritize and provide the required counterpart funding for health sector initiatives and the Equity fund of the contributory health fund in their respective states.
- A call for the organized private sector to allocate a percentage of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds towards health funding, including contributing to the Vulnerable Group funds (VGF) as enshrined in the NHIA Act (2022).
- An urging for all Nigerians to familiarize themselves with the content of the Patients’ Bill of Rights produced by the FCCPC and the FMOH. This demand-side initiative aims to empower citizens and ensure healthcare facilities promptly implement these rights.