Accelerating progress towards universal health coverage in Nigeria

11 million Africans are pushed into poverty each year through having to pay for healthcare. In Nigeria, out-of-pocket expenditure accounts for over 70% of national spending on health.

In September 2020, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Nigerian Academy of Science hosted a joint workshop to assess the current healthcare system in Nigeria, and explore the potential role of research in accelerating progress towards universal health coverage (UHC).

The ambition of UHC is to ensure that all people have access to essential health services without enduring financial hardship. Nigeria has committed itself to delivering UHC, but to date, progress has been limited.

Today [Monday 14 December 2020], we have published a report from the workshop, “Understanding the context of health coverage in Nigeria and progress towards universal health coverage”, summarising the themes, opportunities and challenges identified by participants in implementing UHC.

Key issues highlighted in the report include:

  • Re-energising UHC in Nigeria: Participants stressed the importance of clarifying the national vision and developing an advocacy strategy that targets key national and state-level stakeholders.
  • Research to catalyse action: The research community could help to establish a national research agenda, identifying key evidence gaps and unanswered questions. Policymakers must be closely engaged in the development of a research agenda and individual projects, and informed of results.
  • Community engagement: Greater public support for UHC could help to generate pressures on elected authorities, and build political commitment to UHC.
  • Leveraging COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new health challenges and highlighted inequitable access to services. Participants argued that COVID-19 could provide a catalyst to achieve transformative change.

Despite the challenges, workshop participants were optimistic that many of the foundations for UHC are already in place. What is needed is renewed energy and a clear vision - to bring stakeholders together, generate momentum and drive change.

For more information, please download the full workshop report, which is available to the right of this page.

This workshop is the first of three policy workshops this year looking at Universal Health Coverage in Low and-Middle-Income Settings, delivered as part of the Academy’s GCRF programme. For more information, including our wider work on UHC, please visit our dedicated GCRF page.

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