Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, projected to become the world’s third largest in terms of population by 2050. Yet its health outcomes are lagging, holding back progress and threatening the future of an otherwise dynamic nation. This landmark Commission presents a comprehensive and pragmatic roadmap to boost investment and make best use of resources to ensure a healthy Nigeria takes the world stage in the coming decades.
Repositioning future policy to achieve universal health coverage
Our commission, written by a team of Nigeria experts working at institutions in country and around the world, has developed recommendations to reposition future policy to achieve universal health coverage and better health for all Nigerians. We present analysis and evidence to support a positive and realistic future for Nigeria by addressing historically intractable policy implementation challenges with a new narrative.
Good health at the core of a new patriotic national identity and sense of belonging
We call for a new social contract centred on health to define the relationship between the Nigerian citizen and the Nigerian state. Good health can be at the core of the rebirth of a patriotic national identity and sense of belonging. A commitment to a “One Nation, One Health” policy would prioritise the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for all, particularly for the most vulnerable Nigerians, who bear an unacceptably high disease burden.
Rebalancing prevention and curative care to protect, promote and improve the health of Nigeria’s youthful population
We further call for rebalancing prevention and curative care to protect, promote and improve the health of Nigeria’s youthful population. Specific priorities include improving access to water and sanitation and to education (particularly for women and girls), as well as adopting policies to promote environmental sustainability to reduce air pollution and to create a healthier built environment. Given that the vast majority of factors that influence health lie outside the healthcare sector, we believe that health should be at the heart of all policies.
We want to emphasise the importance of advancing digital solutions that will transform health care services and improve data gathering, to guide quality improvements and the need for active engagement with the private sector.
The provision of health insurance coverage for 83 million poor Nigerians through innovative financing
One immediate goal for the government should be the provision of health insurance coverage for 83 million poor Nigerians unable to pay insurance premiums. This could be attained by using innovative financing through targeted levies and mandatory insurance, a ring-fenced budget, and reform of the regulatory landscape to harness the market potential of the private sector.
In addition to increasing health funding, Nigeria must improve the efficient use of existing resources devoted to health, which is supported by our comparative analysis against other West African Countries. We envision a future of healthcare financing without foreign aid through substantial increase in domestic investments.
For a resilient and responsive health system
Finally, Nigeria’s health security requires urgent attention. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of Nigeria’s health security system. For a resilient and responsive health system, Nigeria needs to boost its manufacturing capacity for health products including diagnostics, medicines and vaccines and improve provision of surveillance and preventive public health measures.
A bright future ahead, if we can grasp the opportunities available
Nigeria is a country with so much wealth in terms of human talent and potential and there is a bright future ahead if Nigeria’s leaders can grasp the opportunities available. Providing current and future generations with the best possible health would reap benefits that would not only advance the country’s economic and geopolitical position – but most importantly the well-being, security and prosperity for all Nigerians.