Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State and the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, have stressed the need to shape the future of healthcare indices and outcomes in Nigeria.
They made the call at the 64th National Council on Health, themed “Building Resilient and Inclusive Healthcare Systems for a Healthy Nigeria.”
Declaring the meeting open in Ado-Ekiti, Gov Oyebanji said his administration would continue to collaborate on initiatives that leverage digital solutions for the improvement of the health sector by harnessing technology to enhance and reposition health information systems and streamline processes to achieve desired results.
The governor stated that his administration has demonstrated significant commitment to improving the health status of the populace through a holistic approach to health systems development, with particular emphasis on strengthening the primary healthcare system as a way of promoting universal health coverage.
His administration, he stated, has invested considerably in the health sector, including in infrastructural upgrades, improved welfare packages for health workers and the availability of quality drugs.
“Today, in Ekiti, everyone can access a comprehensive package of primary care interventions such as family planning, ante-natal care, delivery, post-natal care, under-5 illnesses, and malaria treatment for all,” the governor asserted.
Minister of Health Prof. Muhammad Pate, in his speech, said the National Council on Health has become a veritable platform over time where members and stakeholders meet and interact to consider, deliberate, and chart ways forward on health issues of national importance.
The minister noted that the theme and the sub-themes were carefully chosen to realise the priorities of the sector and encourage stakeholders to take stock of the journey so far and ultimately achieve a system where everyone has access to needed health services without being exposed to any form of financial hardship.
Prof. Pate tasked government with the need to be transparent, accountable, and responsive to the healthcare needs of its citizens, creating and enforcing policies that prioritise the health and well-being of the people.
He added that government must also establish a regulatory framework that ensures the highest quality standards in healthcare and safeguards against corruption.
In his keynote address, World Bank Country Director Chubam Chundri urged the Federal Government to make deliberate efforts to reflect key pillars of health systems, including primary healthcare, by improving the resources allocated to the sector.
Chundri, who recommended an urgent shift towards promoting the health and well-being of Nigerians, lamented the country’s low investment in health, which had turned Nigeria into the country with the least-funded health system in the world.
He stressed the need for the country to raise more revenue through an increase in excise taxes in the drive to adequately fund the health sector to a more acceptable standard.
The meeting had in attendance health workers, policymakers, and stakeholders comprising the Minister of Health, Commissioners for Health, and officials from the 36 states of the federation, including the Secretary of Health and Federal Capital Territory, as well as representatives of development agencies including UNICEF, WHO, and USAID, among others.