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Health Act stalls on funding as health care costs rise

The implementation of the National Health Act is on but held back since 2014 by absent funding for the Basic Health Fund as health care costs continue to increase, health minister Isaac Adewole has said.

The Fund guarantees some universal health coverage (UHC) and basic insurance cover to reduce the burden of out-of-pocket spending on Nigerians.

Speaking at the National Health Dialogue on UHC in Abuja, Adewole said, “When at least 50% of our people are able to access affordable health care within distance of where they live, we are there. It is not a destination, it is a journey.”

The dialogue is expected to give “clear-cut recommendations to fund health care,” he said.

“We are speaking the same language. Where we need to work together is how do we do it well.”

Director-general of the National Agency for Control of AIDS, Sani Aliyu, said, “For UHC to work, what we need is evidence-based intervention.”

Only around 60,000 out of nearly 700,000 thousand people on antiretroviral treatment are paid for by the Nigerian government; the others are paid for by donors, he said. Many have fallen off treatment with the introduction of user fees.

“In five years, you are going to get a knock on the door, [asking] ‘when are you going to start taking care of your own people,” Aliyu warned about dependence on donor money for health spending.

“What we ask is our right to have proper funding so we can drive health for our people.”

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