The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Health Insurance Fund supports the strengthening of Nigeria’s health markets and private sector capacity to ensure improved access to quality care for low- and middle-income groups. PharmAccess Foundation is the implementation partner of the Government of the Netherlands for all health-related activities with the objective to strengthen the healthcare system of Nigeria in line with its “Trade and Aid” policies. Some of the notable interventions implemented by PharmAccess Nigeria include: technical assistance to Lagos and Kwara State Health Insurance Agencies to operationalize their mandatory health insurance laws, advocacy to increase resource mobilization for the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, support to the National Health Insurance Authority to strengthen accreditation and quality of care, implementation of the Access to Finance Program which is a public-private partnership to revitalize nonfunctional primary healthcare centers, currently being implemented in Delta State through the Medical Credit Fund amongst many others.
In attendance during the courtesy visit were some of PharmAccess strategic partners, including the Director General of the National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA), Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, NHIA Lagos State Lead, Dr. Femi Akingbade; and the Director General of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission, Dr. Ben Nkechika.
The Country Director of PharmAccess Foundation, Ms. Njide Ndili, welcomed the dignitaries in attendance and expressed gratitude to the Dutch government and the ministry of foreign affairs for their support to PharmAccess Foundation, she further gave an overview and status of PharmAccess activities in Nigeria.
She said: “we focus on providing technical assistance, advocacy support in collaboration with other partners, demand-side health financing designs and innovations to enable transparency and seamless access to care, improvement in healthcare quality by implementing our quality improvement program SafeCare and leveraging digital healthcare solutions to support healthcare transactions.
“PharmAccess Foundation is supporting an array of projects across the country, and we are gradually changing the narrative of healthcare in Nigeria from a vicious cycle to a virtuous one. We are grateful for our partnership with the federal and state governments in Nigeria as well as the Dutch government for their unwavering commitment to enable Nigeria to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC). It was important to hear updates directly from some of our core partners so that future support can be targeted.”
Mr. Collet during his remarks applauded the NHIA for their efforts to expand health insurance coverage across all states in the country. He also commended the Delta State Contributory Health Commission (DSCHC) for partnering with the private sector and putting into action the “Access to Finance (A2F)” Program to revive failing healthcare facilities in Delta State.
“Strategic leadership and dedication are essential if the UHC initiative is to be expanded to every state in Nigeria. It is fantastic and highly impressive that the DSCHC has used this structure and system to accomplish its objective. Public investment is a critical element that cannot be overlooked, and it is encouraging to see that the NHIA is now willing to invest even more in the private sector in order to achieve UHC in Nigeria,” he said.
Prof. Nasir Sambo, the Director General of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) remarked saying: “the primary concern of the authority is to ensure a veritable medium for attaining UHC in Nigeria. In light of the recent mandatory health insurance act, the goal is now considerably more attainable. We also want to refine and broaden our strategy in an effort to maintain the new act’s sustainability moving ahead”.
Dr. Ben Nkechika, the Director General of the Delta State Contributory Health Commission provided an update on the Access to Finance Program, the impact of the program, the challenges faced and the need for strong Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to catalyze change in the Nigerian Health sector.
“The Delta State government, alongside the DSCHC, partnered with PharmAccess Foundation and other key stakeholders to implement the Access to Finance Program, which is a finance, operate, and transfer PPP model to revitalize dysfunctional primary healthcare centers in the difficult-to-reach and underserved communities in Delta State. The goal of this partnership was to increase access points for communities and revive dysfunctional primary healthcare centers to provide quality healthcare services. Our strategy is to use the private sector to run the public facilities so that nobody is left behind.”
In its efforts to support achieving UHC by 2030, PharmAccess Foundation intends to deepen its collaborative efforts with all its strategic partners both in the public and private sectors. The Dutch government plans to provide further support in the areas of research and development as well as technical capacity building to the local sector in Nigeria going forward.
Mr. Steve Collet presented Prof. Nasir Sambo, and Dr. Ben Nkechika with a plaque recognizing their active engagement with PharmAccess Foundation and their progressive efforts towards the advancement of UHC in Nigeria