Press Release on the Universal Health Coverage Day
For Immediate Release
12th December 2018
Universal Health Coverage Day 2018: Prioritising Adolescents and Young People in the Implementation of the 1% CRF
The theme for the maiden edition of the Universal Health Coverage Day is ‘Unite for Universal Health Coverage: Now is the Time for Collective Action’. This is an important day to commemorate by calling the attention of meaningful stakeholders to synergise to ensure improved access to healthcare services for all without any form of financial hardship.
On Tuesday the 16th May 2018, social media was agog with celebrations from individuals and civil society organizations alike, this was because the National Assembly announced that it had passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill (Budget) inclusive of the 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). The 1% CRF is a provision of the National Health Act that serves as a basic health care provision fund. Through this Fund, the Act makes provision for Basic Minimum Health Package for all Nigerians.
The Basic Health Care Provision Fund is established to finance the Basic Healthcare to citizens, provide for essential drugs, vaccines and consumables through eligible primary health care facilities, purchase and maintenance of equipment and facilities, human resource development and cater to emergency medical services. We applaud the National Assembly for the passage of the 2018 Budget inclusive of the 1% CRF, and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for signing the Budget with the 1% intact. This is a vital step in promoting equity and sustainability of our health system.
However, in the guidelines for the implementation of the BHCPF, the focus is on MNCH and this needs to be expanded to include the sexual and reproductive health of Adolescents and Young People as a matter of priority. We specifically demand that Adolescents and Young People (AYP) are not left behind in the implementation of the ACT and especially on the utilization of the funds.
Incidentally, the general belief by the majority of Nigerians decision and policy makers inclusive is that AYP is the healthy section of the population with fewer health challenges. This very erroneous perception has led to decision and policy makers paying less attention to issues that affect AYP in the country. The reality is that AYP, in particular, Adolescent Girls and Young Women from poor households are among the most vulnerable in our society and so their health should be given paramount priority especially their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This will aid them to grow into healthy adults capable of contributing to improvements in their households and the development of the country.
Just as the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros pointed out at the 71st World Health Assembly, “there can be no Universal Health Coverage (UHC) without quality, equity, dignity, and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights”. There is no equity or equality in UHC where a particular segment of the society is overlooked. As the current pendulum in the health sector all over the world including Nigeria is on UHC, we once again reemphasize the need to include AYP in Nigeria in the category of persons eligible for user fee exemption that will be covered in the Basic Minimum Health Package. In particular, we call on the National Council on Health, the body that is responsible for the development of the guidelines that will determine those eligible to be considered for user fee exemption to specifically include sexual and reproductive health services, such as HIV counselling and testing, family planning/contraceptives services and Human Papilloma Virus vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
Also, sexual violence services including post-exposure prophylaxes (PEP) and emergency contraception; treatment of complications as a result of unsafe abortion should also be included and tailored towards catering for AYP and we are advocating that FG creates a seat for the young people in the national steering committee for the basic health care provision fund to represent the voice of the young people on issues affecting them as recommended by the global financing facility (GFF) country multi-stakeholder guideline note, Integrating youth-friendly services into existing health care structures.
As a country with a very youthful population, we expect that 20% of the Human Resource Development fund be set aside for building the capacity of healthcare personnel to better meet the specific needs of AYP. The implementation of these recommendations will be a vital step toward ensuring that Nigeria’s youths are healthy, vibrant and able to reach their potentials.
Bayo Olanrewaju Ewuola
Education as a Vaccine