On the 18th of November 2021, PharmAccess Nigeria partnered with Enterprise Development Centre of Pan-Atlantic University to host its 1st annual Healthcare Conference themed “Talent, Technology and the Nigerian Health Sector”. The aim of the conference was to identify additional funding mechanisms and strategies in building an efficient health system with special focus on digital transformation and scale up of health insurance across the country.
The event which also recognized PharmAccess Foundation’s 20th anniversary of impact in the health sector, hosted over 150 Attendees from the private and public sector in what can be described as an honest open exchange of ideas. The speakers opined on several issues including the massive emigration of Nigerian doctors and the need for rehabilitation of government hospitals.
The conference was declared open, by Deputy Director, Enterprise Development Centre of Pan-Atlantic University, Nneka Okekearu. During her welcome address, she added that the conference will proffer sustainable solutions that will mobilize and consolidate cooperation and transparency among stakeholders such as governments, funders, the private sector and civil society; for a multi-sectoral, holistic response to health concerns that is inclusive, sustainable and adequately funded.
While delivering the keynote address, the CEO Interswitch Nigeria, Mitchell Elegbe appreciated the timeliness of the conference as it outlines conversation on sustainable solutions to Nigeria Healthcare sector through digital transformation while leveraging FinTech.
During the Panel discussion titled “Advancing alternative healthcare financing: A requirement for universal health coverage in Nigeria,” the Country Director of PharmAccess Nigeria, Njide Ndili stressed the relevance of public-private partnership in improving quality healthcare coverage noting that government alone cannot cater for the health needs of the populace. She further spoke on taxation being an important mechanism for realizing increased funding if ringfenced for health.
She said: “There is no silver bullet to solving this problem of funding, rather there are different funding sources that need to aggregate to achieve universal health coverage. There needs to be collaboration between all stakeholders because everybody has a role to play. The policy makers in government ought to do their own part to ensure that adequate funding is made available especially for the indigents.
“We can also not over emphasize the critical role of technology because we can use it to leverage funding, direct people to appropriate healthcare centers. We must also adopt best practices as there are currently pockets of excellence being implemented such as in Delta State which has enrolled over 1Million lives on their health insurance scheme.”
The CEO AXA Mansard Heath, Mr. Tope Adeniyi spoke on the importance of educating Nigerians about health insurance. He emphasized that a change in spending culture can improve healthcare coverage. He urged more people to spend more proactively on health insurance, rather than reactively.
While Adesimbo Bello-Ukiri, CEO of Avon Healthcare Ltd mentioned the need to harness the power of technology together with increased funding from corporate companies. According to Ms Adesimbo, Independent of the economic situation of the country, if more people spend their money on Health insurance rather than hoping to pay out-of-pocket when there’s an emergency, we will have a better healthcare funding.”
Also speakers, the Director General, Delta State Health Contributory Scheme, Dr Nkechika Ben, added that there is a need for improved collaboration with National Health Insurance Scheme and State Health Insurance scheme, saying it is a catalyst for revitalizing Primary Healthcare Centers across the country.
Other speakers at the panel discussion included Nkata Chuku, Founding Partner Health System Consult Limited, Femi Akingbade, General Manager Nigeria Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr Yemi Johnson of First Cardiology as well as Dr Adedamola Dada of FMC Ebutte Metta.
Going Forward, PharmAccess Nigeria will continue to engage stakeholders at all levels both public and private to critically address issue of alternative strategies to mobilize/allocate more funding for healthcare in Nigeria