THE Federal Government is targeting to offer affordable healthcare to about eight million low and middle-income Nigerians, in the first quarter of 2018, under a new health policy to be known as ‘Buharicare’.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who made this disclosure in Abuja, while featuring on Eagle Square; the Radio Nigeria public affairs programme, which was monitored by Vanguard, also said the ministry plans to revitalize additional 6,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) to position the country on the path towards achieving sustainable development and universal health coverage.
He said: “We plan to offer eight million Nigerians basic healthcare at affordable cost under a health policy we are going to call Buharicare, because it is a deliverable of President Muhammadu Buhari and he is the sole motivator of the programme.
“We have no plan to develop new PHCs but we want to put life into existing ones. A survey done by the Ministry of health and our partners indicated that we have over 30,000 PHCs but only about one out of every five of these PHCs is working.
“So when we came on board, we thought that if we could put life into 10,000 of these PHCs across the country, we would have been able to bring healthcare to at least 100 million Nigerians and we would be on the path towards achieving sustainable development and universal coverage. And, at the last count, we have revitalized over 4,000 PHCs across the country.”
Adewole added that the ministry was also working relentlessly to ensure that a hitherto neglected provision of the National Health Act (2014), which stipulates that at least one percent consolidated revenue be made available by governments at all levels to fund healthcare provision, is implement in three pilot states in the first quarter of this year.
“With effect from first quarter of 2018, we are piloting the implementation of the one percent consolidated revenue provision of the National Health Act (2014). We would implement it in three states of the country with support from donor agencies and international partners. We will implement it in Niger, Abia, and Osun states.
“However, we must let Nigerians know that the National Health Act (2014) is more than just one percent consolidated revenue. It is unfortunate that everybody is so sentimental about the ‘one percent’ provision, as if that is all we have to implement with respect to the Act.
“We have set-up all the committees; we are implementing the concept of the National Council on Health. We have also activated support to the states in terms of policy framework,” he asserted.
Speaking on a related development, the health minister revealed that the ministry is making efforts to draw-up a new blueprint for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to make it universal in scope; thereby covering all classes of Nigerians.
“The NHIS as presently constituted has not failed. It was designed essentially to cover public servants. What we are trying to do now is to redraw a map for NHIS.
“The Presidency has asked us to develop a fresh blueprint, and we are working on it. The Senate committee on health is also working on the National Health Insurance Commission Bill. We are working together to give Nigerians a health insurance scheme that is nationwide in coverage and universal in scope,” Adewole declared.