To improve the lives of many individuals, the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and the Development Research and Projects Centre (DRPC) have promoted raising awareness of health issues throughout local government regions.
The request was made at an event at the institute in Jos, Plateau State, on enhancing health governance in Nigeria.
Speaking at the discussion, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, director general of NIPSS, said that the absence of local government planning for health, as well as resource allocations and the lack of autonomy for local governments to operate, has led to the health sector's current severe crises. These crises are caused by the health sector's poor ability to deliver primary healthcare, poor infrastructure, inadequate staffing, poor handling of health emergencies, and poor handling of health emergencies.
He said the dialogue will examine the state of health governance at the local government level, identify the key drivers of health governance and evaluate the challenges confronting health governance at those levels and then make policy recommendations that will promote health governance at the local government level in Nigeria.
He urged political parties to endeavour to make health issues prominent in their forthcoming electioneering campaigns, saying that the parties will eventually form governments at the national and state levels, and they will be expected to give health a priority in their programming and activities.
“The health sector in our dear country is confronting severe crises occasioned by weak delivery of primary health care, poor health infrastructure, inadequate personnel, poor handling of health emergencies such as COVID-19, the near absence of planning for health at the local government level, resource diversions and the absence of autonomy to local governments to operate.
“These factors have made the achievement of universal health coverage through Primary Health Care difficult. If the situation is not reversed, it will be absolutely difficult to achieve Goal 3, which is dedicated to ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of the well-being of all citizens of all ages.
“It is because of this that the National Institute and the DRPC found it imperative to create this platform for deep reflections on health governance at the subnational levels in our country.
“At the end of this dialogue, we expect to harvest the recommendations and package them in the form of policy briefs and they will be shared to the MDAS in charge of the implementation of health programmes in the country for uptake. We hope that political parties will make health issues prominent in their forthcoming electioneering campaigns. We hope too that the political parties that will form governments at the national and state levels will give health a priority in their programming,” he said.
A health system and management expert, School of Health and the Related Research University of Sheffield UK, Dr Muhammad Saddiq, explained that the root of the failure of primary healthcare and the entire health systems in low-and middle- income countries including Nigeria is the weakness or even absence of governance.
He pointed out that there must be a transparent system that assesses what is within realistic limits of resources available for health at the local, state and federal level, and that building successful health systems must start with a new mindset and clear fundamental decisions the government must make.
The Director of Projects DRPC, Dr Stanley Ukpai, said the dialogue will explore and share best practices for strengthening health governance at local government levels as part of ongoing efforts to reform the health sector for maximum impact in Nigeria.
He noted that the policy dialogue brought experts, academics, and policymakers from the national and sub-national levels to provide recommendations to address the challenges and drivers of health governance for implementation at the three tiers of government.