PERMANENT Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Mahmuda Mamman says that human resources for health, mobilisation of domestic resources and ensuring that health is on the political agenda for 2023 are key to addressing health security in Nigeria.
Mamman, who spoke at the Health Security Policy Dialogue of the Nigerian Health Watch with the theme “Decentralising Health Security: Lessons from the COVID-19 Response” in Abuja said dealing with issues on migrating human resources for health goes beyond increasing salary.
He advised the government to consider using bilateral relationships to strengthen human resources mobility in a way to ensure a win-win situation for the country and the migrants.
Mamman, who was represented at the event by the Director of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr Ngozi Azodoh, stated that health workers who want to migrate cannot be stopped. Still, the bilateral relationships can help to strengthen local institutions to train more people and ensure that Nigeria never lacks at any point in time.
He stated that resource mobilisation for health, including from the private sector, requires that health is on the political agenda for 2023, adding, “mobilising domestic resources is not just about money, it is also about mobilising the strongest voices we have during the COVID-19 response to ensure global health security.”
UNICEF’s country representative, Peter Hawkins, noted that Nigeria’s multisectoral response to COVID-19 was one of the best across the globe and the nation can further improve on its service delivery during the epidemic by decentralising financing of health, ensuring surveillance system and timely response mechanism to surveillance as well as health financing at the state level.
He added, “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 others, this is an alert rather than anything else.
“We have a large black hole- accountability of human resources. Health resources are dropping, types of human resources available are becoming squid and so getting the human resources right has to be our number one priority.”
Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) Dr Ifedayo Adetifa in his keynote address, stated that disease-causing germs in their bid to survive causes significant disruption to human’s way of life, causing perennial recurrent and concurrent infectious diseases every year.
He stated that the joint external evaluation of Nigeria’s readiness to respond to public health challenges increased from 39 per cent in 2017 to 46 per cent in 2019, underlying the need to invest and pay more attention to sub-national level health strengthening for optimal epidemic preparedness and response in the country.
Dr Adetifa added, “our states need to realise the need to secure funds for health security in their own budgetary allocation; it is vital that states fund their own emergency preparedness and response as well as demonstrate the political commitment and exemplary leadership required to steer and strengthen state-level health security as part of ensuring national health security.”
Beyond responding and emergency preparedness for epidemic-prone diseases, Dr Adetifa said ensuring a functional and easy-to-access primary health care facility and universal health coverage is the first step in ensuring health security for the people in all communities across the country.
Earlier, Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu said the health security policy dialogue was to discuss lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, how Nigeria responded as a country and how to ensure national health security, including the strengthening of health at the sub-national level.