President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has described Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a right of all Nigerians, irrespective of their stations in life.
Saraki who disclosed this during the launch of the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage in Abuja on Monday, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, also added that government at all levels must strive to situate the nation’s health resources to optimally service the people.
“Therefore, in addressing the issue of financing health care in a sustainable manner to reach all Nigerians, I believe it is possible to achieve Universal Health Coverage. It is the right of our people and we must achieve it,” he stated.
He further stated that the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage’s platform is remarkable as it aims to strengthen institutional cooperation to advance legislative activities on health matters.
Saraki said: “As it is said, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. In our efforts to revive the wealth of our nation, the health of our people must remain paramount. We must, therefore, strive to situate our health resources to optimally serve our population.
“As a nation, we have opted to adopt the Universal Health Coverage which seeks ‘to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them”, he stated.
According to the President of the Senate, the importance of the Universal Health Coverage cannot be overstated, “as our major role as legislators is to promote the welfare of our citizens; to ensure that effective healthcare systems are available to all Nigerians.”
“This informed the desire to draw in the cooperative efforts of both the National and State Assemblies targeted at developing health strategies that will work effectively for all,” Saraki said. “This for me is another rare opportunity for us to ensure that the legislative effort in both the National and State Assemblies are moving towards the same direction.”
He noted that the poor access to good healthcare especially in the rural areas was a challenge government at all levels must tackle through innovative thinking and dedication.
“Going by a World Bank report, the state of the Nigerian health system is dysfunctional and grossly under-funded with a per capita expenditure of US$ 9.44,” Saraki said. “Therefore, addressing the issues in financing health care in a sustainable manner to reach all Nigerians call for the harmonization of legislative actions at both the National and States levels.”
He stated that while “the overall objective of the Summit is to launch a national Legislative Network on UHC, the specific objectives will enhance the knowledge base and understanding of strategies in the legislature, geared towards achieving the goals of Universal Health Coverage. It is my hope that this framework will bring about the effective health care systems we envision for our country.”