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LAGOS, Nigeria, 17, May 2018–The Lagos State health Financing Dialogue was an opportunity for stakeholders in the health sector to discuss ways of ensuring timely access to the health sector budget. It was also an avenue to identify alternative sources of funding which could be harnessed to enhance the health budget performance in Lagos state.
The dialogue was attended by The Commissioner for Health, Lagos state, Representative of the Commissioner for Finance, the Director of Budget, Chairman of House Committee on Health, General Manager, Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), Officers from; the Ministry of Health, Primary Health Care Board, Health Service Commission, Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Access Bank, Journalists, LASAM members, representatives from developments partners (Save the Children, Nigeria Network of NGO-PACFaH@Scale (NNNGO-PAS), Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI2), Development Communications (DEVCOMS), FHI 360, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Pathfinder International, LASFADAM, Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), MamaYe and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Discussions gave way to practical strategies on how to maximise budget performance in the health sector and ways to leverage the wealth of the country to provide better healthcare services to citizens.
In his address, the Commissioner for health, Lagos state, Dr. Olajide Idris noted that increased health financing is key to changing the situation of the health sector in the country. He identified that the current situation of health is not novel to the government as many advocacy platforms had come up at both State and Federal levels in the last two years. He, however, noted that although more resources are being disbursed by the government into health financing, the rapidly increasing population in the country makes their effort inadequate.
He expressed the need for all present to recognise the government’s continued commitment to ensuring that the 3 Agencies of health carry out their duties effectively towards improving the health budget performance in the state.
“We have to start looking at the tangibility of health care and how to convince providers that they have to adhere to quality standards to generate a certain delivery of healthcare service” noted Dr. Olamide Okulaja, representative, Pharmaceutical Access. In his presentation titled, ‘Practical Strategies to Maximise Budget Performance in the Health Sector’, he sighted that resource mobilisation is important for the health care system to function as the government cannot pull it off alone. Pertinent to discussions about improved health funding, he said, was the need to re-evaluate the utilization of resources that are being allocated to the health sector.
Dr. Okulaja added that mediums through which health outcomes can be linked to tangible outputs include; Job creation, road construction, general security, interministerial collaboration, access to capital and data.
Dr Peju Adenusi, General Manager, LASHMA, identified that the Lagos State health scheme which was signed into law in May 2015, establishes that policies such as; Premium care at ₦40,000 annual for a family of 6, full subsidies for 5% coverage of the very poor, funds are to be handled exclusively by LASHMA, roll out of LSHS simultaneously in the 3 senatorial districts, HIAs to be engaged for the implementation of the scheme excluding provider payment function and premium subsidy for Lagos State Civil Servants.
She added that it is the responsibility of citizens to understand the scheme and these policies, register themselves and their family through existing community-based groups/association, ensure regular payment of premium, do not extend the protection to non-registered family members, discuss inclusion of extra family members into the scheme with health insurance agents/hospitals, make suggestions/complains known through established mechanisms, including creating awareness about the scheme by encouraging others to join.
One of the high points of the event was a panel discussion which revealed the need for better monitoring of the process of fund requisition, approval and release by the Ministry of health to ensure increase in the health budget performance as well the need to reduce delays informed by bureaucratic practices in order to ensure optimum utilization of available funds to improve the health outcomes of the citizens of Lagos State.
Other interesting outcomes included a roundtable discussion focused on ‘Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme: Domestic Financing Options for Effective RMNCAH+N Service Delivery’, the launch of a campaign calling the government to adequately fund health care in Nigeria, a grand presentation of Key healthcare Asks by LASAM and the unveiling of the #FUNDNAIJAHEALTH.
In closing, Barr. Ayo Adebusoye of NNNGO-PAS charged the media to amplify their voices till government responds positively to an increase in allocation for health and there is an improvement in the health budget performance.
Written by Oyindamola Aramide, Communication Officer, NNNGO