Prepayment system key to achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria -World Bank

The World Bank Group, says prepayment system is key to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.

Dr Christoph Kurowski, Global Lead for Health Financing, World Bank Group, said this at a four-day workshop with the theme: “Strengthening Health Financing at the Frontlines’’ in Abuja on Wednesday.

The workshop was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) for 18 states to support health financing arrangement at the sub-national level.

Kurowski said that prepayments would allow funds to be pooled and redistributed to reduce financial barriers for those who needed to use the services they could not afford.

According to him, this spreads the financial risks of ill-health across all stakeholders.

He suggested that prepayment could be derived from taxation, other government charges or health insurance from a mixture of sources.

According to him, such financial risk protection is an instrument of social protection applied to health.

“It works alongside other social protection mechanisms like unemployment and sickness benefits, pensions, child support, housing assistance, job-creation schemes, agricultural insurance and others, which have indirect consequences for health.’’

Kurowski said that government alone would not be able to raise sufficient funds to eliminate excess out-of pocket expenditures for all health services that Nigerians need, adding this was why prepayment arrangements at the sub national level must be encouraged.

According to him, It is therefore a challenge to decide how best to support health within budgetary limits.

He said that the first challenge in moving toward UHC was to define the services and supporting policies needed in any setting, including financial risk protection, the population that needs to use these services, and the cost.

Kurowski said that it required an understanding of the causes of ill-health, the possible interventions, who currently had access to these services and who do not, and the extent of financial hardship incurred by paying out-of-pocket.

He noted that acting on behalf of their populations, governments must decide how to move closer to universal coverage with limited financial resources.

The 19 participating states in the second batch of the health financing workshop are, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Kwara , Enugu, Gombe, Taraba, Imo, Kogi, Yobe, Zamfara, Lagos, Jigawa, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, and Sokoto states.

The workshop is being attended by stakeholders in the health sector. (NAN)