Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire says Universal Health Coverage is now a major priority for health systems across the world especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ehanire in a statement released on Saturday in commemoration of the Universal Health Coverage Day which is celebrated annually on December 12, 2020, noted that nations now see the provision of healthcare services to all citizens as a fundamental objective.
According to the World Health Organisation, UHC is a system where all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
The WHO explained that protecting people from the financial consequences of paying for health services out of their pockets reduces the risk that citizens would be pushed into poverty because an unexpected illness requires them to use up their life savings, sell assets or borrow – destroying their futures and often those of their children.
Ehanire in a series of tweets posted on the Twitter handle of the Federal Ministry of Health, Ehanire stressed that countries and leaders should see the protection of their citizens from financial hardship at the point of accessing health services as the ultimate goal.
“The #UniversalHealthCoverage has gathered global attention and has also continued to be a major priority for health systems around the world especially in the wake of #COVID19 Pandemic.
“The need to protect everyone from financial hardship at the point of accessing health services is the major focus of the 2020 #UniversalHealthCoverageDay with the theme; Health for All: Protect Everyone,” he said.
The minister stated further that the UHC Day requires an increase in financial risk protection for the populace through expanded health insurance coverage with minimal out of pocket payment as well as an increase in the minimum benefit package of healthcare services available.
“The National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System will provide the missing link in Nigeria’s health system by embarking on an optimistic initiative that we trust will achieve more in the long run. I once again congratulate all stakeholders in the health sector & appreciate all the contributions,” he said.
According to the WHO, while at least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential health services, about 100 million people are still being pushed into extreme poverty.
Extreme poverty in this context is defined as living on 1.90 USD (N722 in local currency) or less a day because they have to pay for health care.
“Over 930 million people (around 12% of the world’s population) spend at least 10% of their household budgets to pay for health care.
All UN Member States have agreed to try to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals,” it stated.
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