“Development Governance International (DGI) Consult is glad to be a founding member of the UHC 2023 Forum which is a coalition of a wide array of stakeholders (including donor agencies, development partners, Civil Society Organizations and the Media) working towards raising the political prioritization of health in Nigeria ahead of the 2023 general elections”.
Nigeria has made Universal Health Coverage (UHC) its primary health policy goal, however, there is a very slow pace of deliberate actions towards attaining UHC. The slow progress on UHC and gaps in the health security system are attributable to sub-optimal public financing for health and weak accountability arrangements which are manifestations of a low level of priority accorded to the health sector by the political class in the country. Also, in the past, health policy advocates have not successfully taken advantage of the policy window and opportunities presented by election to engender health policy thrusts and obtain commitments from the political class. This is partly due to the lack of a strong coalition to pursue a clear health agenda before the general elections. The UHC 2023 Forum, seeks to fill this gap by forming a robust alliance that articulates a clear health policy agenda to be adopted by the political class before the electioneering processes climax.
The UHC Summit with the central theme “Putting Health and Health Security on the Political Front Burner” was organized by the UHC 2023 Forum in collaboration with the Chatham House UK and Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) towards kick-starting the process of generating a political consensus for UHC in the country.
Members of the UHC 2023 Forum Include: Development Governance International (DGI) Consult; International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH); Health Systems Consult Ltd (HSCL); PharmAccess Foundation; National Advocates for Health (NA4H); Nigeria Health Watch (NHW); Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI); Lafiya Program; Legislative Initiative for Sustainable Development (LISDEL); Centre for Advocacy, Accountability and Inclusive Development (CAAID); Health Policy Plus (HP+); Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN); The West African Institute of Public Health (WAIPH); Christian Aid Nigeria; Joint Learning Agenda for UHC; Integrated Health Program (IHP); and One Campaign.
The overall purpose of the Summit was to forge a consensus and build a coalition of critical stakeholders and chart a course of action for putting health on the political front burner. The specific objectives of the Summit include the following:
- To deepen the understanding of the political class and other stakeholders about Nigeria’s health system challenges and acquaint them with available strategic policy options for expanding access to health with financial protection
- To identify the roles of critical stakeholders including the political class, the media, CSO, and donor agencies in putting health on the political front burner
- To obtain commitments from the stakeholders towards enhanced prioritization of health policy thrust in party manifestoes and government spending
- To chart a course of action for translating commitments to actions that will set the country on the trajectory of UHC
Overview of the UHC Summit
The UHC Summit took place on the 16th of December 2021 at Shehu Umar Musa Yar’adua Centre in Abuja, Nigeria. The Summit brought together diverse stakeholders including high-level political leaders at the national and subnational levels, heads of health ministries and agencies in Nigeria, heads of international donor and development agencies, civil society, and media organizations.
Eminent personalities present and represented at the Summit include the Executive Governors of Nasarawa, Osun, Delta, Ekiti, Kaduna, and Gombe States; the Senate President of the 8th National Assembly, Senator (Dr) Bukola Saraki; the 9th Assembly Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Senator (Dr) Ibrahim Oloriegbe; the Emir of Shonga, His Royal Highness (HRH) Dr. Haliru Yahaya; the Honourable Minister of Health; the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Nasir Sambo; the Country Representatives of the World Bank, World Health Organization, Foreign Commonwealth Development Office, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), among other development agencies.
The Summit featured a welcome address by the Chair of the UHC 2023 Forum, Chief (Mrs) Moji Makanjuola, opening remarks and goodwill messages from the political actors and other stakeholder groups present. These were followed by presentations, panels, and plenary discussions which thoroughly examined how the elections can be leveraged to place health on the political front burner in Nigeria, alongside subsidizing health costs in Nigeria. The sessions also stimulated conversations during which commitments were obtained from the different stakeholder groups (including political actors, media, civil society, and donors) who have roles to play in creating a political health agenda for Nigeria. participants were further enlightened about the pressing health policy and financing issues in Nigeria and far-reaching recommendations were made that will shape the advocacy focus of the UHC 2023 Forum.
At the end of the Summit, a draft communique of action was presented at the Summit for appropriate implementation. Some of the key action points and next steps to follow the Summit include the following:
- Design of a roadmap from all the recommendations and commitments from the Summit to enable the effective monitoring of implementation
- Through an evidence-based and participatory approach, design a health “health manifesto” for adaptation and adoption by the major political parties in their respective party manifestoes for the 2023 elections.
- Engage relevant stakeholders including the political gladiators, traditional and religious leaders to ensure that the “health manifesto” is captured in the party manifestos of the major political parties in the country
- Develop an engagement strategy to ensure no stakeholder is left out