Osinbajo inaugurates health sector reform committee four months later
* Charges members to provide a person-centered health system
More than four months after its establishment by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Ret), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated the Health Sector Reform Committee in Abuja on Thursday.
This is how he instructed the committee members to build a modern, manly and people-centered healthcare system.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President for Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, revealed this in a statement he signed on Thursday evening titled “A modern, people-centered health system fundamental to President’s vision for Nigeria’s growth, says Osinbajo”.
On September 7, 2021, the President approved the establishment of a Health Sector Reform Committee to initiate the development and implementation of a Health Sector Reform Program for Nigeria in collaboration with the state governments and administration of the Federal Capital Territory.
Members are drawn from different branches of government, development partners, traditional institution and civil society organizations among others.
Buhari’s decision follows a health sector diagnostic review report compiled by a consultant, Vesta Healthcare Partners and the Federal Ministry of Health.
As Chair of the Committee, Osinbajo urged members on the importance of the task at hand, saying: “Mr. President, has made it clear in several public statements that a modern, manly and people-centered healthcare was fundamental to his vision of socio-economic growth.”
However, he noted that Nigeria’s health sector still faces critical challenges that have resulted in suboptimal results compared to more developed jurisdictions around the world, a situation that makes reforming the sector imperative.
Acknowledging these challenges, Osinbajo explained that the government’s primary responsibility is to “put in place the structures and arrangements necessary to strengthen the efficiency of the health ecosystem, improve the delivery of health care, stem the drain of brains of our healthcare workforce and reduce pressure on our foreign exchange reserves due to medical tourism.
He acknowledged several efforts prior to the establishment of the Committee to ensure that the reform process proceeded smoothly.
According to him, “there have of course been a fair number of attempts to reform the health system in Nigeria and many of us appointed members of this committee are familiar with some of those reform efforts, but this particular journey of the Nigerian health sector reform (and we heard, I think quite fully, from the Minister of Health) began with the commissioning of a diagnostic needs assessment of the sector.
“Subsequently, the National Privatization Council, at its meeting of April 12, 2019, approved the appointment of consultants to carry out the assignment, which involved a review of previous reform efforts in the sector, as well as field visits to 55 Tertiary Health Centre. Institutions across the country and some selected sub-regional health institutions.
While seeking the cooperation and dedication of all Committee members, the Vice-Chair noted that “given the multisectoral and multidisciplinary engagement required to execute a health reform mandate of the magnitude and complexity that we have today, I want to make sure that the reform effort coordination office that will be housed in the vice president’s office doesn’t just have the ministry of health (which is an important partner ) but also some of the important technical resource people provided by our partners and of course a strong representation also of the committee.
He said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would partner with the Committee to carry out its duties.
The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Ibrahim Oloriegbe; Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; representative of the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ben Nkechika, and Chairman of the Nigerian Health Commissioners Forum, Dr. Betta Edu.
Other members present include World Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Walter Mulombo; President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Innocent Ujah; President of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, Prof. James Damen; President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Prof. Cyril Usifoh; DG, Nigerian Center for Disease Control, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa; DG, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Alex Okoh, and CEO, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, among others.
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