By Olatunde Olaolu & Janet Joseph-Abah (Interns)
World Health Day is celebrated annually on the 7th of April, and this year’s theme “Health for All” highlights the need for everyone to have access to quality healthcare, regardless of their economic or social status. In Nigeria, access to quality healthcare remains a major challenge, despite many efforts by the government, civil society, media organizations and the donor community.
One of the most pressing healthcare challenges in Nigeria is maternal health. Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with an estimated 512 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This is largely due to a lack of access to quality maternal healthcare services, including skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, and family planning services. To address this, the government has implemented several maternal health interventions, including the “Midwives Service Scheme” which aims to deploy midwives to underserved areas. Another intervention the government has put in place is the “Saving One Million Lives Initiative”, which aims to improve maternal and child health outcomes. Despite these interventions, maternal health remains a significant challenge in Nigeria.
Another pressing challenge is the inability of many Nigerians to access health due to financial hardship. One of the ways the government has tried to improve this is through health insurance policies. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS, now National Health Insurance Authority NHIA) was established in 1999 to provide affordable health insurance to Nigerians. The NHIS offers various health insurance well as vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and children under five. However, despite these efforts, only about 5% of Nigerians are beneficiaries of any health insurance scheme, while Nigerians still make out-of-pocket payment to meet over 70% of healthcare needs. Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has committed to achieving universal health coverage by 2030. To achieve this, the government must work on strengthening the healthcare system, expanding health insurance coverage, and improving the quality of healthcare services which require sustained efforts and substantial investment and there are still some challenges to be addressed.
Conclusively, this year’s World Health Day is another reminder that everyone has a right to access quality healthcare services regardless of
their economic or social status. Therefore, the government must ramp up investment in healthcare infrastructure, improve access to family planning services, as well as training and retaining skilled healthcare workers in order to successfully achieve the goal of “Health for All ” in Nigeria.