NIGERIA – Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN) held its 2023 Annual Conference themed ‘Building the Healthcare of our future’ where stakeholders recommended that collaboration and collective responsibility are needed to create a sustainable and inclusive healthcare ecosystem in Nigeria.

The experts who spoke at the conference said that Nigeria can reposition and rebuild its healthcare ecosystem if the country strengthens its health information system and enhances the use of evidence-linked planning for resource allocation and utilization.

Pamela Ajayi, president of HFN, highlighted the need to reposition the healthcare ecosystem in Nigeria.

“We need improvements to the health information system, regular and sustainable population and health-facility-based surveys, and a functioning vital statistics and civil registration system,” Ajayi said.

“We also need to strengthen the use of evidence-linked planning for resource allocation and utilization.”

Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, in his speech called for collaboration among various government agencies and the private sector for sustainable and inclusive healthcare in Nigeria.

The minister lauded the efforts undertaken by HFN and expressed his gratitude to the private sector for its support and the partnership it has developed with the public sector.

Speaking on the difficulties faced in importing medical items such as HS (harmonised system) codes, the minister said: “You can create a group that will be able to work with Customs to identify what items are coming in and what tariff should be on it continuously.”

“We want to support not only the public sector but the private sector as well and our goal is to have universal health coverage, and quality health services,” Ehanire said while calling on players to collaborate with the Nigerian Customs to harmonize tariffs on imported medical equipment.

The Minister of Health also disclosed that the Federal Government is working on halting the brain drain in the health sector by improving conditions of service.

The minister also said that plans were on to get medical and health professionals who have travelled abroad to visit home to work temporarily or teach and train home-based doctors and nurses.

“Senior doctors are the ones leaving. Very few junior doctors are leaving. There is something we are doing called ‘One for One’ replacement. This entails the replacement of a doctor immediately he leaves,” he said.

“In the past, it was abused as departing doctors replaced themselves with relatives or others that added no value to the system. So, the ‘One for One’ ensures that it is strictly the same profession. And we have warned all medical directors to comply.”

He added that there were many competing needs that the government is paying attention to, stressing: “Money needs to go into roads, electricity, transportation, water, security, and Nigerians don’t like to pay tax, whether individual or corporate.”

During the conference, new executive committee members were elected to lead the affairs of the healthcare advocacy group for the next two years, ending in October 2024. Pamela Ajayi and Njide Ndili, the previous president and vice-president of HFN respectively, were re-elected, president and vice-president respectively.

Njide Ndili, the newly re-elected vice president who is also the country director of PharmAccess Foundation, urged everyone to utilize the wide array of insightful segments that the conference had to offer.

“The conference comes amid several challenges facing the healthcare ecosystem in Nigeria, including funding for healthcare, monetary policy tightening and volatility, gaps in fiscal policy and poor implementation, and dwindling human resources for health, with increasing brain-drain throughout the value chain and ecosystem,” he said.

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