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Universal health: CSO, others advocate more funding for health sector

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Universal health: CSO, others advocate more funding for health sector

Last Updated on August 2, 2023 by Fellow Press

A civil society organisation, Centre for Social Justices (CSJs) and other stakeholders in the health sector have reiterated their call for a robust funding of the sector.

The CSJ’s Lead Director, Mr Eze Onyekpere and the stakeholders, made the call in Abuja at the opening session of a two-day workshop on innovative and alternative funding of the health sector.

The workshop was organised by CSJs with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under its palladium project – “Strengthening Civil Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE).

The stakeholders noted that a robust funding of the health sector would hasten the country’s 2030 target of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Nigerians.

However, Onyekpere stated that Nigeria’s health indicators were poor and could not be compared to countries on the same level of development with it, noting that the country was very far off on the road to UHC.

According to him, part of the key challenges to this is the poor funding of the sector in terms of overall financial input, as well as inefficiency and waste in the sector.

He disclosed that the indices meant that the country was not having more health from available resources.

The lead director stated that the idea of the workshop was to canvass for more money for health and more health from the already available resources.

He said that the workshop was also to brainstorm on how the waste, inefficiency and corruption in the health sector could be cut down, looking at alternative sources of funding beyond the budget, to provide more forces for the sector.

“This is why we are discussing the issue of compulsory health insurance which if fully implemented, would generate more resources for the sector beyond what ever the Federal Government and state would budget.

“We are also looking at the prospect where Federal Ministry of Health had fully absolved its budget, it will implement the capital budget.

“We are also going to look at the idea of establishing health development bank which will be a development bank that will provide medium and long term credit at single digit interest rate, specifically focusing on the health sector.

“It will be used for upgrading of health infrastructure, health equipment and technologies that can make sure Nigeria’s hospitals compete with those Nigerian leaders go wherever they go on medical tourism.

Mrs Bolanle Ernest-Egbe, Head, Client Service, Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO), appreciated CSJs’ constant contribution on health sector, particularly for driving the advancement of health insurance.

She said that CSJs’ efforts in encouraging Nigerians for health insurance was well thought-out and had created awareness to millions of Nigerians to embrace the scheme.

“A lot of people are not aware of the health insurance scheme that is available to all even with the mandatory nature of the new Act that was enacted in 2002.

“With this advocacy programme by CSJs, we have been able to reach millions of people and create awareness that was necessary for them to buy-in into the health insurance scheme, it is a long task, but it is a good step.

“We sincerely appreciate the CSJs for this drive, for creating the platform for us; if this platform keeps on going this way, a lot of people will have better knowledge of health insurance industry.

“We should not be weary about the pace at which we are going; it may be small but it is a sure pace that will eventually pay at the end by having the UHC for Nigerians,” she stressed.

Ernest-Egbe, however, stated that there was still need for more advocacy and enlightenment on the health insurance, adding that enlightenment for beneficiaries of health insurance was not yet enough.

She said that a lot of beneficiaries on the scheme were not well informed about the benefits attached to the scheme or how to go about it to enforce their right.

According to her, the Federal Government needs to do more, and not just to pass the law on Health Insurance Act, and that they need to educate the public on the rights and benefits of the scheme.

She, however, called for collaboration between every government agencies and HMOs for frequent enlightenment and education to their staff, saying that this would surely bridge the gap between knowledge and benefits.

The workshop had in attendance representatives from the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, and faith-based organisations.

Others are representatives from the media, traditional civil society organisations, HMOs, ministry of health, and health officials from different states – Sokoto, Adamawa, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Imo, Rivers and Ekiti.

Health

Milk Day: Shettima unveils National Dairy Policy

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Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Fellow Press

The Federal Government has inaugurated the National Dairy Policy to catalyse development in the livestock and dairy sectors.

The policy, unveiled on Tuesday in Abuja by Vice President Kashim Shettima, aims to achieve sustainable diversification of the national economy, a key objective of its National Development Plan (2021-2025).

The document was designed to serve as a roadmap for energising the dairy industry over the coming years.

The policy is the outcome of several consultations and engagements with key stakeholders who shared the vision of a productive and globally competitive dairy sector in Nigeria.

Speaking at the unveiling of the document, Shettima said that milk was not a staple but a cornerstone of Nigeria nutritional security and economic development.

He said theme of the 2024 Milk Day, “Harnessing the Nutrition and Investment Opportunities in a Sustainable Dairy Value Chain,” was particularly significant.

Shettima was represented by Dr Kingsley Uzoma, Senior Special Assistant to Shettima on Agribusiness.

He said that since its inception, the benefits of milk and dairy products had been actively promoted worldwide, highlighting how dairy supported the livelihoods of one billion people.

“Dairy is an accessible, affordable, and nutrient-dense food, essential for balanced diets across the world.

“Billions of people consume milk and dairy products daily, not only as a vital source of nutrition but also as a means of livelihood for farmers, processors, shopkeepers, and other stakeholders in the dairy value chain.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that consumers, industry and governments have up-to-date information on how milk and dairy products contribute to human nutrition.

“Also how dairy-industry development can best increase food security and alleviate poverty in Nigeria.”

Shettima said that dairy farming presented significant opportunities for economic development and youth employment.

“However, these opportunities do not come without challenges.

“Our livestock farmers often face issues such as inadequate feed for their animals, conflicts over grazing lands, and the adverse effects of climate change.”

He said that the these challenges were compounded by violent conflicts between farmers and cattle herdsmen over land use.

“A situation exacerbated by increasing droughts and the pressing need for sustainable solutions.

” Recognising these challenges, the Federal Government is launching the National Dairy Policy with the objective of transforming the dairy industry in Nigeria.”

Shettima said the policy would address key obstacles such as the lack of modern global best practices for cross-breeding and calving, high costs of mik and poor transportation infrastructure among others.

“Currently, Nigeria spends 1.5 billion dollars annually on importing dairy products due to a production deficit.

” Nigerians consume an average of 1.6 billion liters of milk and its products but domestic production is insufficient to meet this demand.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration is determined to achieve national production security, with the longer term goal of eventually exporting dairy products to other African countries under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).”

He said that implementation of the policy would ensure improved dairy farming practices, increased investment in dairy processing and preservation, evidence-based policy implementation, and enhanced collaboration.

Shettima said that it would also enable ease of business for the dairy industry, fostering public-private partnerships, embracing technology and innovation, empowering women-friendly and youth-centric business models.

“Its implementation will promote good animal health practices, and monitoring and evaluating progress,” he said.

In a remark, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Aliyu Abdullahi, said that the national dairy policy was in line with Federal Government’s Renewed Hope Agenda to reposition the livestock sector.

He said that the document would create enabling and supportive environment for growth in the dairy sector.

Abdullahi said that there were potential in the dairy industry, adding that with consistency and steadfastness to the policy’s implementation, Nigeria would before long become self- sufficient in milk and dairy products.

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I’m a witness for Christ– Okupe recounts as he defeats cancer

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Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Fellow Press

A former Labour Party, LP, presidential spokesperson, Doyin Okupe, has described himself as an evangelist of Jesus Christ.

Okupe disclosed this while recounting how God saved him from cancer for the second time and his weight loss journey.

He spoke while appearing on Channels Television’s programme, Political Paradigm.

Responding to if he achieved his weight loss through surgery or discipline, Okupe said: “It’s part in part, the first problem was cancer I had and the chemotherapy makes you lose appetite, you have nausea, and even as you sustain for several months, you lose weight.

“When I started chemotherapy, I was 127kg, and then I came down to 97kg… the chemotherapy ended and I went back to 103kg

“This is the second time I’m beating cancer, the first time was 16 years ago, which was prostrate and this time it was the soft tissues of my right shoulders.

“In all these, I bear witness to God and Jesus Christ, I’m a testimony to the fact that there is nothing the Lord God Jehovah can’t do. From now on, I have become an evangelist and a witness for Christ.”

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