The Federal Ministry for Health has said that transparency and accountability would guide the implementation of the Basic Health Care Programme Fund (BHCPF) in the country.
Dr Emmanuel Meribole, Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistics, in the ministry, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), on Sunday Abuja.
Meribole said that the ministry had instituted a strict accountability mechanism among the different stakeholders responsible for implementing the BHCPF.
According to him, the ministry recognises the need for community involvement and ownership which are critical to the provision of quality healthcare for the poor and vulnerable in the society.
“Accountability will be ensured through a transparent method of allocating resources from the Federal Government through the Agencies to the States using the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system.
“The resources would be routed from state agencies to commercial bank accounts of the facilities chosen by the states based on the principle of one primary health care facility per geo-political ward.
“These facilities, which are mainly public health facilities, receive funding through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), to the State Primary Health Care Agency, (SPHCA), and finally to the facilities,” he explained.
“Based on the benefit package attached to the Basic Minimum Package of Health Care Services, (BMPHS), facilities offer services to Nigerians, make claims on each service offered and these claims are paid for by the National Health Insurance scheme, (NHIS), through the State Social Insurance Scheme
“For this process to work well, a lot of capacity building has been put in place to ensure that State agencies, facilities and the communities understand their roles and responsibilities.
“There is also going to be independent verification agents and external auditors who will periodically check to see that the activities being carried out have value for the money expended,” he said
He said that the TSA accounts enable interested parties to see the fund flow mechanism and ensures transparency for all to see and track progress.
“All hands are on deck toward prudent appropriation of funds for the success of BHCPF,” he said.
Meribole disclosed that there were monitoring mechanisms to ensure that funds disbursed were delivered against agreed measurable targets and objectives.
He assured Nigerians that these targets would ultimately translate into improved access to quality healthcare for Nigeria’s vulnerable demography.
” The BHCPF design of the fund flow mechanism is such that 95 per cent of the money in each gateway will be channelled to the facilities accounts for the purpose of providing health services which will be paid for through the NHIS gateway.
“The need to ensure that the funds are used for what they were earmarked for is critical.
“The Civil Society Organisations(CSOs) are the watchdogs at every stage of implementation. I implore them to be serious in this area. Communities should always be on the alert, and continue to insist on their rights to quality health care,” he said.
The director said that the Federal Government viewed the effective implementation of the BHCPF as the key to achieving Universal Health Care (UHC) in Nigeria and wantz the fund to be used strictly for that purpose.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari administration appropriated N55.1 Billion, which is one per cent of Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), to cater for the BHCPF in fulfillment of the National Health Act, 2014 in 2018.
“Already, 50 per cent of the money for 2018 has been released and we are hopeful of a hundred percent release.
“International partners such as the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID are also contributing to the Fund. The Brand name for this Programme is ‘HUWE’ meaning life,” he explained.
He explained that BHCPF works by making funding available to accredited public and private primary and secondary healthcare facilities to be delivered to the BMPHS.
He said that the programme had laid down criteria for accessing the fund by all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
He added that the process had ensured sustainability and ownership of the BHCPF, beginning with an initial N100 million as a sign of state commitment to implementing the BHCPF.
According to him, the states are also required to create State Health Insurance Agencies (SHIAs), and state primary health care development boards to serve as channels through which implementation would be monitored.
He said that ultimately, a well designed healthcare financing and strengthening framework would attract both local and foreign donors to the health care space, which would improve the country’s healthcare system at the grassroots.
He stressed that the BHCPF is a unique vehicle to help Nigeria achieve UHC in the country.
According to him, the BHCPF will help in the ongoing revitalisation of PHC services across the country.
“The gaps in the health sector responsible for the sub-optimal health indices were understood, and actionable steps were taken to address those gaps through the BMPHS. The people are also at the centre of the plan.”
He listed areas of intervention to include reproductive, maternal and child health, family planning, antenatal, delivery and postnatal care as well as immunization and treatment of causes of “Under- 5” deaths like diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.
Others include neonatal Care, like umbilical cord care with Chlorhexidine, child health, immunisation , growth monitoring and integrated management of childhood illness (Under 5).
Others areas include control of communicable diseases and malaria, and Intermittent Preventive Treatment for malaria(IPT), nutrition education, early initiation of breastfeeding and promotion of exclusive breastfeeding.
He listed other services as screening of hypertension and diabetics and onward referral of same.
“There is also formation and reactivation of Ward Development Committees (WDC), PHC facility-based health education talk and demonstration where possible, and PHC information system forms for data submission.
Meribole said that the ministry was also working towards the need for a strengthened comprehensive emergency public health and medical response system, including National Ambulance System in the country through the BHCPF programme.
He, however, noted that all stakeholders had continued to update the National Steering Committee on the development of implementation made across the country.
NAN reports that President Mohammadu Buhari, in Jan. 2019, launched the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund(BHCPF), which was appropriated for, by the National Assembly in the 2018 budget.
The 2020 budget speech by President Buhari again allocated a statutory transfer of N44.5 billion for the BHCPF, which was among the five statutory transfers in Nigeria’s 2020 budget proposal. (NAN)