By Yemi Adeleye
Lagos, Sept. 25, 2020 A civil society network, the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Alliance Nigeria, has advocated for accountability and improved access to healthcare for People Living With Non-Commumicable Diseases (PLWNCDs) in Nigeria.
The group made the call in a communique issued on Friday in Lagos by its Communications Advisor, Mr Abiola Awe, after its virtual advocacy meeting as part of the activities to mark the Third Global Week for Action on NCDs in Nigeria.
The meeting was held to assess knowledge of participants on extant policies on NCDs and to raise awareness of health policy makers on their commitments to NCDs.
According to it, the meeting was aimed at generating increased political commitment to implementation of policies on NCDs prevention and access to treatment and care of PLWNCDs as well as strengthening the advocacy capacity of PLWNCDs.
It stated that all efforts was to enhance stronger governmental actions on prevention, control and funding for their treatments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
It said that the meeting in its observations , discovered that NCDs constituted the number one cause of death and disability worldwide, and were responsible for two out of three premature deaths globally,
“There is a rise in the prevalence of NCDs among children and adolescents with prevalences of three per cent and six per cent and between 3-16 per cent for Type 2 diabetes mellitus, pre-systolic hypertension and obesity respectively recorded among this population in recent studies.
“In spite of this, children have often been neglected from plans of action on NCDs,” it stated.
Nigeria is a signatory to the Global SDGs. SDG 3 Target 4 seeks to reduce by one third mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment by 2030 yet accessing treatment and care for NCDs is pushing patients and their families into financial difficulty or to near bankruptcy.
“International focus on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, represents a significant opportunity for PLWNCDs, irrespective of where they live.
“In spite of the gravity of the NCDs epidemic in Nigeria, the level of awareness of the public and even health workers and administrators is poor,” the report added.
It added that the release of Equity Grants and Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) by state and Federal Government respectively to State Health Insurance Schemes, remained the sure way to ensure expansion of care to PLWNCDs.
According to the report, only three states in the country have released Equity Grants while no state in the federation has received the BHCPF as of date.
The communique said that the meeting recommended that the Conference of Speakers and Nigeria Governors Forum should be engaged in order to secure the release of Equity Grants by the State governments and BHCPF by the Federal.
It said that this had become important in order to make Social Health Insurance Schemes effective.
According to it, the benefits of various State Health Insurance Schemes should also be broadened to cover more NCDs.
The communique also said that, at present, the packages cover diagnosis and Treatment of few NCDs – Diabetes, Sickle Cell and High Blood Pressure.
“Recommendations should be made to the governments on how to improve access to healthcare for PLWNCDs in Nigeria especially during this COVID-19 pandemic era.
“Advocacy should be made for introduction of Diet Education and Healthy Living as a Compulsory Subject in the Secondary School Curriculum in Nigeria.
“That the advocacy should be focused on awareness, prevention, wellness programs, care and rehabilitation for NCDs,” it added.
The communique added that the meeting recommended that a position paper on NCDs should be presented through the Forum of Commissioners of Health at the forthcoming National Council on Health meeting.
“A recommendation for an amendment of the BHCPF guidelines should be sent to the Conference of Speakers to consider making 50% of the fund available for care for vulnerable and elderly persons,” it said.
Participants at the meeting were the Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Mr Timothy Owoeye, Chairpersons of Health Committee of Osun, Ekiti and Kogi States Houses of Assembly, President, NCD Alliance Nigeria (NCDAN) Dr Sonny Kuku and Dr Kingsley Akinroye, Vice President Scientific Affairs, (NCDAN).
Others included: Prof. Akin Osibogun, Executive Secretary, NCDAN, Dr Adeniyi Oginni, Chairman, Forum of CEOs of State Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria and Dr Mohammed Usman-Adis, Chairman, Forum of CEOs of State Primary Health Care Agencies in Nigeria,
Also at the meeting were some partners of the Alliance, the Federal Ministry of Health, State Primary Healthcare Development Agencies, State Health Insurance Agencies, State Contributory Health Commissions.