Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday in Abuja swore-in the Health Sector Reform Committee four months after it was founded by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Professor Osinbajo during the inauguration ceremony challenged the committee members to deliver a modern, virile and people-centric healthcare system so as to attain the desired change in the nation’s health sector.
The development was contained in a statement issued and signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, late Thursday titled ‘Modern, people-centric healthcare 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 kick-start the development and implementation of a Health Sector Reform Programme for Nigeria in collaboration with state governments and the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
The membership is drawn from the different arms of government, development partners, the traditional institution and Civil Society Organisations, among others.
Buhari’s decision followed a Health Sector Diagnostic Review Report developed by a consultant, Vesta Healthcare Partners and the Federal Ministry of Health.
As the Committee’s chairman, Osinbajo urged members on the importance of the task ahead, saying, “Mr President, has in several public statements made it clear that a modern, virile and people-centric healthcare system was fundamental to his vision for socio-economic growth.”
However, he noted that Nigeria’s health sector still bears some critical challenges that have resulted in sub-optimal outcomes compared with more developed jurisdictions of the world, a situation that makes the reform of 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 boost the efficiency of the healthcare ecosystem, improve healthcare delivery, stem the brain-drain of our health personnel and reduce the pressure on our foreign reserves on account of medical tourism.”
He acknowledged several prior efforts to the setting up of the Committee to ensure that the reform process is hitch-free.
According to him, “There have, of course, been a good number of attempts to reform the healthcare system in Nigeria and many of us who are members-designate of this Committee are familiar with some of these reform efforts, but this particular journey of reforming the Nigerian health sector (and we have heard, I think quite comprehensively from the Hon Minister of Health) began with the commissioning of a Diagnostic Needs Assessment of the Sector.
“Subsequently, the National Council on Privatisation 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 the 55 Tertiary Health Institutions across the country and some selected sub-regional health institutions.”
While soliciting the cooperation and dedication of all members of the Committee, the Vice President noted that “on account of the multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary participation required to execute a health reform mandate on the scale and the complexity that we have today, I am keen to ensure that the coordinating office for the reform effort which will be domiciled in the Office of the Vice President will not just have the Ministry of Health (which is an important partner) but also some of the important technical resource persons provided by our partners and of course solid representation also from the committee.”
He said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would partner with the Committee to discharge its functions.
Present at the meeting were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe; Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; representative of the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ben Nkechika, and Chairperson of the Nigerian Health Commissioners’ Forum, Dr. Betta Edu.
Other members present include the Country Representative of the World Health Organization, 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 Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa; DG, Bureau for Public Enterprises, Mr Alex Okoh, and CEO, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Mr Babatunde Irukera, among others.