Health Care Federation of Nigeria

Following the need to positively influence health care in Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general, the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN), an association which brings together all stakeholders in private sector health care, recently inaugurated its state chapter.

The inauguration of this chapter precedes the introduction of the Ogun State Community-based Health Insurance Scheme (CBHIS) which has been inaugurated in the State just at the weekend.

The inaugural HFN forum brought together leaders of various health care-based associations and top business managers in the Nigerian health care space as well as health professionals including: medical doctors, nurses, medical laboratory scientists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and health management organisations.

Speaking at the event, Assistant Publicity Secretary, HFN, Mr. Remi Adeseun, stated that the HFN being a national association and umbrella body of a professional associations and trade groups in the healthcare sector, has as its initial focus, health care policy issues at the national level. "There is, however, a recognition that ultimately, health care issues are local; hence, the need to interface with the state governments which cater directly for the health care needs of the people," he added.

Explaining further, he said that Ogun State has the distinction of being one of the states with the highest percentage budgetary allocation for health in its 2014 budget.

"The state government through the Commissioner for Health has also demonstrated a clear appreciation of the complementary role of the private sector and the benefit of Public-Private Partnership in meeting the health care needs of the people," he stated.

Meanwhile, the President, HFN, Mrs. Clare Omatseye, said the forum was to ensure that all stakeholders in the health care speak with one voice and advocate  to  bring the change they need in the country’s health care system. “There is the need for health care practitioners to work together synergistically irrespective of diversity; hence, the need for all stakeholders in health care to come together to influence government policy,” she explained.

She further enthused that key areas of focus include:  access to finance, advocacy for incentives for health care, enabling regulatory framework and enabling policies. The President encouraged participants to think about three words that the HFN stands for, such as engagement, access and quality.

With its quest to unite for impact in Ogun State, the HFN disclosed that the present challenges in the health care industry includes poor health indices and increase in medical tourism stating the losses to the country as well as the role of the private sector in health care delivery as 60 % of health care delivery in Nigeria comes  through the private sector.

While the current challenges facing the private health sector are fragmentation, access to finance, human resource challenges and poor regulatory environment, the HFN stated the need for the private health sector to unite and form a platform that speaks with one united voice to effect a positive change in the Nigerian health care industry.

The inaugural forum also served as a platform to discuss and drum up support for  the  Ogun State Community-based Health Insurance Scheme (CBHIS)  as well as to proffer suggestions to the State Government on key success factors for the scheme and pitfalls to avoid.

The involvement of the African Health Markets for Equity AHME partnership within the CBHIS  was also discussed stating opportunities for the private health sector in Ogun State which include improvement in standards of quality, increased access to microcredit schemes and finance amongst others.

In his presentation, a representative of the AHME partnership, Dr. Olamide Okulaja said  that ‘the role of the private sector in healthcare delivery is increasingly recognized by governments and other stakeholders. However, atomization, disorganization and quality of care constrain the potential of the private sector to collectively address key drivers of regional disease burden.

The AHME partnership led by Marie Stopes International (MSI), comprises six best in class organizations – MSI, Population Services International (PSI), Society for Family Health (SFH), Grameen Foundation (GF), Pharmaccess International (Pharmaccess) and the International Financing Corporation/World Bank Health in Africa Initiative (IFC/HIA) aims to address impediments to effective private sector engagement in order to catalyze market responsiveness to the healthcare needs of undeserved men, women and children.’

Source: This Day, 15th May 2014  By Rebecca Ejifoma

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