The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), had explained that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the Country’s national dependence on importation of health commodities.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this on Saturday in Abuja, while delivering a keynote address, at the end of three days special National Council on Health (NCH), meeting, organized by FMOH and other stakeholders in the health sector.

The 2021 theme is “The Journey to Attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Applying Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic Towards Building A Resilient National Health System”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the NCH on Health, as provided for in the National Health Act (2014), is the highest policy making body on matters relating to health in Nigeria.

The membership comprises the Honourable Minister of Health who is the Chairman of the Council, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, State Commissioners for Health of the 36 States, and the Secretary of Health & Human Services Secretariat, FCTA.

Ehanire said that the Federal Government could not afford commodities anymore and measures were being put in place to encouraged local production.

The Minister added that there was a law in progress of a mandatory health insurance system as well as an effective Primary Health Care system to take care of the grass root in achieving the Universal Health Coverage(UHC), in the Country.

He pointed out that emergency was the same for all diseases and that there was the need to put measures in the Country in place to address this accordingly.

He stated that above all, the government was ensuring that no one was left behind.

Ehanire, however said that it was hoped that the NHAct would be fully operationalized to achieve the targeted objectives and that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), would also be leveraged upon to take the health sector to greater heights in the country.

While speaking on the theme of the special NCH, he said,”The journey to attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Applying Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic Towards Building A Resilient National Health System’’ was aimed at addressing the unpredictable pandemic that struck the world at the early part of the first quarter in 2020 which resulted to stringent measures like lock downs which slowed down the global economy accordingly,”.

He further stated that however, efforts and strategies put in place yielded positive results as all the catastrophic predictions on Africa due to the pandemic did not come to pass.

Ehanire added the need to strengthen the country’s health sector whether there was any pandemic or not.  

He said the ultimate measure of building a resilient health system would take care of the vulnerable as a line of defence for any other pandemic and that doses of the COVID-19 vaccines in the country were being rolled out with mass vaccination both at the National and Sub-national levels.

He congratulated all the stakeholders for a successful hosting of the special NCH meeting. He finally stated that it was wished that the NCH would change the narrative of ‘’leaving no one behind’’.

Meanwhile, Dr Stanley Ukpai, Director Projects of PACFaH@Scale (PAS), commended the FMOH for convening the Council on matters addressing the theme.

Ukpai informed that PAS works in the area of supporting non-profit organizations to hold government accountable.

He emphasized that the importance of reaching urgent milestones in health systems strengthening and healthcare delivery and that PAS would continue to support the FMOH in its activities to promote child and family health.

“PAS was one of the partners that worked with the FMOH towards the successful conduct of this special NCH,” he added.

NAN recalls that the Special NCH on Health was chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr. Ehanire, with a total of 635 delegates participated from the Departments, Agencies and Parastatals of the FMOH, State Ministries of Health and the Health & Human Services Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Abuja.

Others in attendance were members of the National and State Assemblies, representatives of Federal Ministries of Education, Water Resources, Communication, Environment as well as , Population Council, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Nigeria Governors Forum, Department of State Services and Medical Corps of the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Air Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps.

There were also delegates from Development Partners, Civil Society Organisations, Organized Private Sector, Health Professional Regulatory Bodies, Health Professional Associations and the Media.

There have been four Emergency NCH meetings held since the last NCH, in 2019, August 6, 2020; June 23, 2020, April 21, 2020; March 4, 2021. At each of these meetings, relevant resolutions were made.

NAN, noted 35 States of the Federation and the FCT were represented at the Special NCH meeting except Ebonyi State that was absent.

It was agreed by council that the 63rd NCH will hold in Akure, Ondo State in March, 2022.(NAN)

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