A coalition of Nigerian youth has lamented the failure of Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), three years after the deadline set by the federal government to achieve the goal.
UHC, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is ensuring that all people have access to needed health services of sufficient quality, while also ensuring the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
In 2005, the then Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, directed that UHC must be achieved in Nigeria by 2015. in pursuit of the goal, he facilitated the creation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
However, 13 years down the line, less than 12 per cent of Nigerians are fully covered by the NHIS, a far cry from the 90 per cent coverage recommended by WHO.
Speaking during a press briefing/launch of the Nigerian Youth Champions For Universal Health Coverage (NYC4UHC), in Abuja on Wednesday, the chairperson, Nita Byack, said the situation of the health sector in Nigeria is worrisome.
Ms Byack said the sector is characterised by lack of policy implementation, and inadequate/delayed annual budget release leading to poor immunisation coverage.
She said more young people who constitute the future of the nation are faced with diverse health challenges because of the system in the country.
Mrs Byack noted that the sluggish progress in achieving health for all Nigerians necessitated youth from the six geo-political zones of the country to get together as a group in a bid to attain the goal.
She said the mission of the group is to engage policy makers and relevant stakeholders to accelerate deliberate actions towards the attainment of UHC through advocacy, media engagement and multi-stakeholder partnership.
She therefore urged government, development partners and the private sector to engage the youth by investing in terms of capacity building, and resource mobilisation for the actualisation of UHC in Nigeria.
In her remarks, the Chief Operating Officer of Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Chika Offor, urged the federal government to create a seat for young people in the national steering committee of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
This, she said, will give young people the privilege to be represented in issues affecting them.