Abuja, 13 April 2018 - The Director-General of the World Health Organization congratulated Nigeria on its commitment to universal healthcare coverage (UHC) and the country’s focus on strengthening primary healthcare centres.
“I am glad to see that Nigeria is giving serious attention to reaching universal healthcare,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “There’s no single path to UHC. All countries must find their own way, but the foundation everywhere must be a strong health system, based on primary care, with an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion.”
During his four-day visit to Nigeria, Dr Tedros met with the Vice President, His Excellency Professor Yemi Osibanjo and was hosted by Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole, Nigeria’s Minister of Health.
“The synergy between WHO and Nigeria’s health sector is strong towards achieving UHC,” said the Minister of Health. “When WHO and the Ministry of Health speak the same language we can achieve much.”
Dr Tedros visited the Kuchigoro Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Abuja, which in January 2017 was the first to be revitalized under the government’s plan to refurbish 10,000 PHCs throughout the country. The centre provides a range of basic services including antenatal care, family planning, HIV prevention, nutrition, treatment of endemic diseases and has laboratory services which can detect tuberculosis.
On his visit to Kuchigoro, Dr Tedros was accompanied by the senior leadership of WHO including the Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who reiterated the organization’s support for Nigeria’s efforts.
“Revitalization of primary healthcare centers is very much in line with WHO’s ambition,” said Dr Moeti. “We want to ensure everyone has access to affordable healthcare. We have the vision and the will to ensure your investment gets all it deserves.”
Through centres such as Kuchigoro, health authorities plan to provide 100 million people with a basic minimum package of primary healthcare services. To pay for this effort in 2014 the government launched the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund and proposed allocating at least 1% of consolidated revenue from the national budget to the fund.
On Thursday 12 April, Dr Tedros participated in the launch of a new name for the fund, which took place at the Healthcare Policy Dialogue. The fund was renamed 'Huwe' which means 'life' in Ebira, one of Nigeria’s 500 local languages.
“The establishment of the fund provides a great opportunity to turn political commitment into tangible gains, and to rally partners and the private sector around revitalizing primary health care, but now Nigeria needs to speed up the process,” said Dr. Tedros.
The Director-General also made a visit to Maiduguri in Borno state where a nine-year conflict has led to the total or partial destruction of two-thirds of health facilities. WHO has a robust humanitarian assistance programme in Borno, which through mobile health teams and community health programmes are helping to provide basic services. In 2017, WHO, state authorities and other partners provided urgent health services to six million people.
“UHC and health security are truly two sides of the same coin and in Borno state there is visible progress towards managing outbreaks such as cholera through effective partnerships,” said Dr Tedros.
The Director-General visited the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre which was inaugurated by Dr Moeti in 2017 to coordinate the health sector’s response to the humanitarian crisis. Dr Tedros also spoke with women who have accessed WHO’s services during a visit to the NYSC camp for internally displaced people. He witnessed a community resource person provide a consultation to a mother and her child.