Fund reiterates commitment to healthcare improvement in Nigeria

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By Fabian Ekeruche

 The Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund(NSSF) says it remains committed to the improvement of healthcare system in the country.

Dr. Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko, General Manager/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the fund disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.

Chinye-Nwoko said that the fund is strategically focused on improving healthcare outcomes of vulnerable people and underserved communities in Nigeria through the support of impactful initiatives.

According to her, these initiatives provide critical intervention in the areas that improve leadership and governance in the health sector, particularly Routine Immunization (RI) programmes.

On why the fund is specifically focused on healthcare improvement in the country, the CEO recalled that healthcare spending in Nigeria was N7.2 trillion (3.1% of GDP), compared to the 15% agreed by African leaders at the 2001 Abuja declaration.

She said that the data above highlights the urgent need to increase healthcare spending to align with the agreed target.

“By increasing healthcare spending, Nigeria can allocate more resources to strengthen its healthcare system, improve access to quality healthcare services, and work towards achieving universal healthcare coverage.

“Only about 20 per cent of the 30,000 Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities across Nigeria are fully functional.

“As a result, a large portion of the population does not have access to quality primary healthcare services, which are essential for preventive and early intervention measures.

“Only three per cent of Nigerians have healthcare insurance leaving most Nigerians vulnerable to health emergencies- individuals and families face financial risks and barriers when accessing healthcare services,” Chinye-Nwoko said.

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The CEO said with its grasp of the conditions of the healthcare system in the country, NSSF had impacted the system by providing financial support to the National Primary Health  Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to scale up COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.

She explained that 12, 000 healthcare workers were trained in safe immunisation programme, while 12 million people were reached through vaccine advocacy programmes.

She added that over 4.9 million people received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have championed participation in advocacy programmes, where over 1,200 youths participated in our campaigns.

“We have also championed advocacy discussions with key stakeholders on improved healthcare and immunization programmes.

“We have mobilized over 1.2 million in support of the governments financing of the health sector,” Chinye-Nwoko said.

On funding its programmes, the CEO said that the fund is actively seeking partnerships with private companies and businesses to secure funding and in-kind support for health programmes, including vaccine access and awareness initiatives.

“This involves building relationships with corporate entities through strategic communication and highlighting the mutual benefits of collaboration,” Chinye-Nwoko said.

The CEO said that through joint advocacy efforts, the fund aims to raise awareness about health issues, including the importance of vaccination and encourage private companies to invest in sustainable health projects that align with the corporate social responsibility objectives.

She added that the collaboration would help extend the reach of health programmes and enhance their impact on communities in need.

NAN reports that NSSF was born out of a partnership between Global Citizen (GC) and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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NSSF mission is to empower organisations through innovative approaches , partnerships, and collaborations to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable people and underserved communities.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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