Bukola Saraki, the former President of the Senate, has urged Nigerians to question politicians about their healthcare plans during election campaigns in 2023.
He also urged lawmakers and policymakers to show more political will in order to attain universal basic healthcare in Nigeria.
Saraki was speaking at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja on Thursday as part of Chatham House’s Universal Health Coverage Summit.
The statement, headed ‘Saraki: Stronger Political Will Needed to Achieve Universal Basic Healthcare,’ was signed by Olu Onemola, the Head, Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office, Abuja.
Saraki said, “Very soon, politicians will soon start campaigning to be President or to be governors. Nigerians must ask them, ‘What are your plans for universal health coverage?’ and ‘How do you intend to achieve it?’ When the time comes, the answers to these questions must be considered by the electorate.”
He stated that in order to prioritize healthcare and health security coverage, Nigerian officials at the national and subnational levels must take healthcare delivery for all residents more seriously.
Sarali continued, “As a medical doctor, this is a topic that is close to my heart. It is a topic that I believe that we all need to get on board to ensure that more Nigerians have access to healthcare coverage.
“To achieve development, the Nigerian population must be healthy. If we can get healthcare coverage right as a nation, we will be doing a lot for our citizens.
“However, the people that truly matter, the political leaders and decision-makers at the national and sub-national levels should be the ones at summits like this one to discuss what their manifestos and plans in the healthcare sector are for the Nigerian people.”
Saraki, who as Senate President championed the inclusion of 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for basic primary healthcare in the 2018 budget—the first time this has happened in Nigeria’s history—stressed that while Nigeria has the technical know-how, tools, and resources to achieve universal healthcare coverage, it lacks the political will at the executive level.
“We can pass three more laws or five more laws. However, unless the leadership of the nation and our states believe in holistic healthcare coverage for all like all the doctors and healthcare public policy experts in this room, we will not be able to achieve universal healthcare coverage,” the former Kwara State Governor said.
The former Senate President further stated that in the post-2023 Nigeria, the federal government and states must aim to expand the number of people covered by healthcare insurance from the current 3% to 7% of the population, with the goal of reaching 100% coverage.
“We must look at how we can achieve this between 2023 and 2027. The state and federal governments must first focus on how to ensure that the less privileged in our society receive healthcare coverage between 2023 and 2025,” he said.