The immediate past governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, on Tuesday, said pursuing policies that would boost public health funding is part of sustainable strategies that would reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria.
Speaking at the 7th Kola Olafimihan College of Health Sciences Endowed Lecture of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Mimiko stated that focussed and continued public financing of health is the only way to speedily achieve universal health coverage.
According to the former governor, universal health care coverage cannot and should not be left to the fabled forces of demand and supply.
Mimiko, who identified low budgetary allocations and spending as one of the biggest challenges to delivering quality healthcare in Nigeria, called for the elimination of financial barrier, health system strengthening and sustained political will to combat rising indices of maternal mortality.
“The Abuja declaration of 2012 prescribed a minimum of 12 percent of total budgetary provision for health whereas the Nigerian Federal Government has hardly exceeded 4 percent,” Mimiko said.
He attributed his continued campaign for improved and continuing public financing of health to his believe that the NHIS has not achieved desired result. “I have endeavored to emphasize the issue of public financing because I am of the firm opinion that while trying to get our act together in Social Health Insurance via the NHIS, even if we eventually do, our focus on increased public health financing must never wane, Mimiko said.
Speaking on the Basic Health Provision Fund, Mimiko identified factors to be considered to achieve set outcome. These are; “sensibilities of the sub-national governments, ensuring enforcement of robust accountability mechanism for 50% of the Fund to be handled by NHIS because of its track record of accountability-related controversies and over-centralization of the Emergency Medical Care component of Fund administration.”
Mimiko also added that political will is an important factor in the delivery of quality healthcare programmes.
He said “To engender political will, we must learn to hold our political leaders to account. Let’s move away from the brick and mortar approach as the hallmark of performance; let the benchmark performance of our leaders in health outcomes be one of the ultimate indicators of success in governance.
“Let’s ensure that these indicators resonate with the grassroots. With time, electoral appeal will carry with it evidence of ability to implement strategic health policies and programs. Then and only then will we be able to get more commitment from our political leaders”.