The Speaker of the House of Representatives yesterday received our report of the 9th House Sectoral Roundtable Session on Health.
The presentation of the document titled the Green Book was made by Honourable Benjamin Kalu, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs; Hon Yusuf Sununu, Chairman of the Health Services Committee; Honourable Paschal Obi, the Chairman of Health Institutions Committee (represented by Hon. Dr Martins Oke); and Obinna Osisiogu, the Executive Director of Advocacy for Civic Engagement (ACE) Centre. In attendance was the Chairman of Defence Committee, Hon Babajimi Benson as well as Jacqueline Obule and Vanessa Onyemauwa, both program managers from ACE Centre.
The Green Book reports the deliberations and policy recommendations of participants and Heath sector stakeholders at the recently concluded 9th House sectoral roundtable session (9th House SRS) on Health.
Recall that the two-day round table themed “Resilient systems and Universal Coverage” discussed issues plaguing Nigeria’s Health sector such as re-prioritizing government spending on health, adapting and learning from Covid-19 to build resilient systems, capital flight and brain drain as well as the health insurance system. Participation at the high-powered roundtable included the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora; the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme, Professor Mohammed Sambo; Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, Country Representative of the World Health Organization; Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, Senior Director of African Development Institute; Dr. Hadiza Khamofu, Country Director of FHI360; Dr. Sanjana Bhardwaj, Chief of Health for UNICEF; Dr. Ibrahim Wada of NISA Premier; Sen. Olanrewaju Tejuosho of LISDEL; Dr. Gafar Alwode of LISDEL; Prof. Innocent Ujah, President of the Nigerian Medical Association; Dr. Nkem Ene of Preston Development Foundation; Dr. Felix Ogedegbe of Cedarcrest Hospital; Dr. Ola Orekunrin of Flying Doctors Nigeria; Mr. Obinnia Abajue of Hygeia HMO; Dr. Frances Ilika of Palladium – Health Policy Plus; Mr. Lanre Olapoju of KPMG; Dr. John Adedoyin of MSH, and Dr. Chioma Nwakanma of SMILE with Me.
Rep. Benjamin Kalu in his remarks at the presentation said that the Green Book would serve as a reference document for the legislative interventions of the 9th House of Representatives and subsequent legislative assemblies on issues concerning the health sector. He thanked the Speaker for continually supporting the activities of his committee and seized the opportunity to call on the support of the House and other strategic partners of the 9th Assembly.
Also speaking at the event, Hon. Sununu, stated that interactions at the roundtable played a role in the ongoing amendment of the National Health Act (NHA), seizing the opportunity to invite ACE Centre to present a memo at the public hearing of the NHA amendment bill based on the policy recommendations in the Green Book.
Hon. Martins Oke who represented Hon. Paschal Obi expressed his confidence that the stakeholder recommendations in the report proffered critical solutions to improve Nigeria’s health systems.
In his remarks, Obinna Osisiogu, speaking for ACE Centre, said,
“The 2-day deliberation on Resilient Systems and Universal Coverage delved into the issues of reprioritizing government spending on health in the context of the Abuja Declaration of 2001; adapting and learning from Covid-19 to build resilient systems; capital flight and brain drain; as well as attaining universal coverage through the health insurance system. In a country where out of pocket expenditure is as high as 70% and budgetary allocations for health are as low as 4%. It is reassuring to civil society that these conversations have been had and documented with the House of Representatives.
We are happy that the House has been receptive to the deliberative process and we enjoy the working relationship that has produced the 9th House SRS. We are encouraged by the outcome of the 9th House SRS on Health, as well as the demonstrated desire of the House under the Speaker’s leadership to improve public engagement and civic participation in its activities.
We look forward to implementation and would love to see the recommendations in the Green Book reflected in the bills, motions and oversight activities of the House.”
The Speaker in his response commended the spokesperson of the House, the chairmen of the participating committees and ACE Centre. He remarked that the health sector engagement was a timely one considering that Nigeria like the rest of the world is presently tasked with navigating a health and economic recovery from the covid-19 pandemic. He also acknowledged Nigeria’s health sector challenges due to covid-19, stating that the task of recovery required a systematic approach that would outlive the 9th Assembly.
Expressing optimism that the partnership between the House and ACE Centre would continue into other socioeconomic and development sectors of the nation, the Speaker promised that the legislative agenda would be paired with recommendations from the health sector roundtable to guide legislative interventions in the health sector.