The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) has been commended for taking up the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) advocacy in order to ensure quality healthcare delivery in the country.
The Minister of Sate for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made this commendation while speaking at the maiden edition of the Faculty of Health Sciences' public lecture, themed: “Achieving UHC Through PHC: Lessons From Nigeria’s Saving One Million Lives Programme For Results (SOMLPforR).”
The event, held on Monday 16th April at the university's headquarters in Abuja, saw the guess speaker, Dr Ibrahim Kana, presented a detailed UHC status in the country and the efforts of each of the 36 states of the federation to access the funds for the programme.
The minister also called on all the academia to key into effective the programme and channels their researches towards health development as they are vital to improving health services in the country.
“Academia is encouraged to also examine the key challenges to governance structures and the interphase between government, donor organisations, the private sector and civil society in the relationship between health economics and the drive to universal health coverage as national responsibility of governments,” he said.
Speaking on the theme of the lecture, Ehanire said the UHC is a priority programme of the present administration and a flagship programme of the Federal Ministry of Health, in response to the poor health outcomes in the country.
He added that the programme was also an intervention to improve maternal and child health, through results-focused partnership with states, adding that “Saving One Million Lives (SOML PforR) is a great opportunity to tackle Nigeria's poor maternal and child health indices.”
In his welcome address, the Vice–Chancellor, Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, stated that the event was timely as it would serve as an avenue to showcase NOUN and for the public to see what NOUN has to offer towards educational development in Nigeria.
“We are very proud of this achievement and congratulate our faculty of Health Sciences. This event is important because it provides a window of interactivity with the Federal Ministry of Health; we want to see more facilitators and supervisors from the ministry,” he said.
According to Adamu, NOUN nursing programme has been fully accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).
NOUN, the VC said, has remained the best university in providing massive opportunity for Nigerians to acquire university education due to its position regarding the non-requirement of JAMB exam in its admission process.
The guest lecturer, Dr Kana, whose father was present at the event, called for more robust approach to ensuring that everybody in the country has access to quality healthcare, even as he challenged the academia to delve into research on primary health care.
Kana, who is also the National Programme Manager, SOML PfoR, also stated that there was the need for the academia to triangulate government policies to pick interest in better understanding of government policies and relate with realities as well as teaching students about current government policies.
Lamenting on the poor state of infant and maternal health in the country, Kana said more human and financial resources should be committed to primary healthcare centres to attain universal health coverage.
According to the guest lecture, PforR has brought a new wave of hope, innovative financing methods, panacea for incessant industrial actions in the health sector, attainment of UHC in Nigeria, ability for each state to achieve UHC at its own pace, among others.
Earlier in her address, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr. Jane-Frances Agbu, said NOUN has provided a platform to raise health workers who would play various roles in the healthsector, adding that the lecture was timely considering the fact that the Federal Government had shown empathy and political will in addressing health concerns for majority of Nigerians.
According to Agbu, government was stimulating access, equity and equality to healthcare and wellbeing of Nigerians.
“It is coincidental that the philosophy of Open and Distance Learning shares the same vision as it ensures access and equity for all who seek knowledge in their different endeavours. This is the prayer of Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) Goal 4,”she said.