By Okeoghene Akubuike
Prof. Mynepalli Sridhar of the University of Ibadan has identified low political will, poor governance and mismanagement of resources as barriers to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Sridhar said this during the 2nd Public Lecture to mark the 2019 World Health Day organised by the Faculty of Health Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Abuja on Monday.
The topic of the lecture is: “Universal Health Coverage: A Dissection into Nigeria’s Need of the Hour”.
Sridhar, who is a Professor at the College of Medicine, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, the University of Ibadan, added that a lack of coordination among the three tiers of the government was also a barrier to UHC.
The don said that UHC meant that all citizens would get quality health services where and when needed without suffering financial hardship.
“One should not undermine that Nigeria had enviable human and natural resources, however, there is a weak link somewhere which prevents sustainability in improving health and infrastructure development.
“Nigeria can achieve UHC if there is a will through good governance.”
Sridhar therefore recommended that all levels of government should fund according to agreed formula, implement and ensure accountability of the second National Strategic Health Development Plan.
He said that government should explore innovative ways of funding the health system through creative ideas.
According to him, there should be a consistent push for skills acquisition and development, particularly for women and children to deal with the issue of poverty, which is the root cause of underdevelopment.
Sridhar also recommended that water sanitation, hygiene and environmental management should be in the forefront and under the umbrella of primary healthcare to control majority of preventable diseases.
He said that there should also be an emergency and bio-safety preparedness for any epidemics, calling for some centres to be named after special diseases and should have specialised personnel manning such facilities.
Prof. Grace Okoli, the Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, NOUN, said that the theme of this year’s celebration was apt as many Nigerians, especially in the rural areas had difficulty in assessing healthcare services.
“The objective of this year’s celebration, which is UHC, is about ensuring that all people and communities have access to quality and affordable healthcare services where and when they need them.
“It includes the full spectrum of services needed throughout life: from health promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation to palliative care.”
Okoli described the lecture as interesting, adding that it cuts deep into Nigeria’s need for the hour on universal healthcare for everyone, everywhere and at every moment.
She called on government to provide the basic needs of the masses – good water, affordable food and good welfare package so that the rich and the poor could live well.
She disclosed that the university’s diagnostic, public health and nursing laboratories would soon be functional for its community and the public.
Dr Dominique Abonyi, the Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria admonished all Nigerians to ask themselves how they could ensure Nigerians accessed quality healthcare.
Abonyi, who was the Chairman of the occasion, said that everyone had a role to play in UHC.
“Everyone has a role to play, my role is to sanitise my environment, I cannot sweep my house and come and sweep yours.
“So, universal healthcare coverage can be achieved if all of us take part in one thing or the other toward attainment of the common goal.”
Theme of the 2019 World Health Day is: “Universal Health Coverage, Health for All, Everyone, Everywhere”.
Highlights at the event include free medical tests for all participants such as eye test, malaria, HIV, hepatitis, sugar level test and other vital checks.