By Lilian Okoro
Lagos, April 27, 2021 A mental health expert, Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, on Tuesday urged both the Federal and State Governments to work out modalities to ensure universal healthcare coverage for diseases outbreak in Nigeria.
Owoeye, also the Director, Clinical Services, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, made the plea in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
He said there was need to work out modalities to ensure universal healthcare coverage for many diseases, so that people would not have to pay on their own for most of the cost for health services.
According to him, universal health coverage strategies will enable everyone to access the services that address the most significant causes of diseases and deaths, and ensures quality services to improve health of the people.
Owoeye said that reducing health financial burden on the citizens would help to increase access to healthcare services, improve lives and reduce mortality and poverty in the country.
“Universal coverage means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
“It includes the full spectrum of essential, quality healthcare services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care across the life course.
“Protecting people from the financial consequences of paying for health services out of their own pockets reduces the risk that people will be pushed into poverty.
Because, unexpected illness requires them to use up their life savings, sell assets, or borrow – destroying their futures and often those of their children.
“When people pay most of the cost for health services out of their own pockets, the poor are often unable to obtain many of the services they need, and even the rich may be exposed to financial hardship in the event of severe or long-term illness.”
According to him, to achieve universal health coverage, a strengthened health system and robust financing structures are key.
He said that Nigeria’s health system was weak and, therefore, needs to be strengthened.
Owoeye noted that the universal health coverage required adequate and competent health and care workers with optimal skills mix at health facilities.
He stated that improving health service coverage and health outcomes would depend on the availability, accessibility, and capacity of health and care workers, to deliver quality people-centred integrated care.
“As a country, we should do a small analysis, look at the opportunities, our strengths and see areas where we can quickly intervene locally.
“We have to begin to see the local opportunities we have that can get people sorted out for different conditions.
“Also, affordability is still something that we should create access to, when we have cheaper medicines, people will go for them.
“We also need to create awareness, train and monitor our healthcare workers,” he said.
Owoeye, therefore, called for the establishment of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in facilities to create and improve access to healthcare.
Now, people are having PPP established in facilities to create access to care; well-meaning organisational bodies can collaborate to support in provision of healthcare facilities.
“So, there are things they can begin to do now, which we were asking people abroad to do for us.
“These are the kinds of strategies that should be deployed,’’ Owoeye said.
He said investment was essential to attaining universal coverage, saying that it has to do with all the resources needed, as well as enforcement of available policies.
Owoeye said that health coverage was the concern of everyone, the healthcare team and the population, as the population could pool and demand.