Medical Experts have charged the federal government on effective Primary Health Care (PHC) system and Universal Health Coverage (UHC), towards strengthening health security in the country.
They gave the charge at the Health Security Policy Dialogue, themed: Decentralising Health Security; Lessons from the COVID-19 Response, organised by the Nigeria Health Watch, in Abuja.
Speaking during the dialogue, UNICEF country representative, Peter Hawkins, said one of the key areas to focus on is sealing the big black hole in managing human resources as Nigeria is losing its key health personnel to other nations.
He stressed the need to tighten efficiency within the sector while affirming that Nigeria did a remarkable job to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for instance stretched and brought on its a-game despite the challenges in the sector. Also, many initiatives like the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) were timely interventions by the Federal Government and private institutions.”
He, however, noted that “whilst we got several things right, much more could have been done. Knowing that the pandemic is not over, and we might be at the beginning of many other.”
Speaking specifically on strengthening the country’s health security and the sub-national level structure with regards to pandemic preparedness, the country director, AFENET, Dr. Patrick Nguku, said “We cannot achieve health security across the national and subnational levels if we do not achieve a universal health coverage (UCH) and have a robust primary health care.”
Also, the director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said, “part of our Key focus at NCDC is to give keen attention to sub-national support activities. We have seen how collaborations with key bodies like the Red cross have spurred improvements in the sector, especially at the local levels. We will continue to drive initiatives to ensure Nigerian health security is strengthened”.