By Moses Emorinken, Abuja
As part of its efforts to address the increasing burden of diseases, disability and premature deaths from preventable causes, the Federal Government Monday formally launched the National Health Promotion Policy 2019 and its ancillary Strategic Policy Documents.
These Policy documents will provide guidance for the empowerment of individuals, families, households, groups and communities, with appropriate information on helpful habits, steps and behaviours to maintain good health and reduce the burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, but also inform on the negative impact of certain practices.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed these during the national presentation, ministerial launch and dissemination of the policy documents, in Abuja.
He said, “Health, it is said, is wealth; but available evidence shows that conditions under which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and the systems in place to handle ill-health, determine overall health outcomes. Health education in communities and settings such as schools, workplace and worship centers, present an opportunity to disseminate information on health and impart life skills that promote healthy and health seeking behaviors, which remain throughout life.
“The Federal Ministry of Health, on acknowledging the benefit of scaled up Health Promotion activities in addressing the increasing burden of diseases, disability and premature deaths from preventable causes, conducted an assessment in 2004, in collaboration with relevant partners, of the capacity of the health sector to implement Health education programmes. The findings revealed limited technical capacity, the need for a framework and linkages across all levels of healthcare.
“Poor health seeking behaviour is still rampant in communities and feeds poor health indices. This can be changed with adoption of simple household health practices in other settings. More investment in health education is not just worthwhile, it is cost saving and supports socio-economic development.
“Major policy documents, including the National Health Act of 2014, the National Health Policy 2016, and the 2nd National Strategic Health Development Plan 2018 – 2022 concur that Health Promotion is Nigeria’s means to ‘reducing the overall burden of disease, through behaviour and lifestyle changes’, but the reality around institutionalisation of Health Promotion, does not yet support the contention. Going forward, we shall make diligent effort to uncover challenges around health promotion programming.”
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Also speaking, the Minister of Women Affairs, Hon. Dame Pauline Tallen, “Women are critical to health, and it is the mothers that handle all health issues that affect the family. Women and children suffer more from negative impacts of disease burden. Therefore, we cannot afford to drive this without putting the women at the centre stage.”
The Chairman of Senate Committee on Health Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, in his remarks expressed the unflinching commitment of the National Assembly towards the policy. “Legislators, as representatives of the people, must be committed to the health of our people. Without the people being healthy, they will not participate in any governance process. Also, without people being healthy, we will not be seen to be doing our work,” he said.
At a separate event by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Minister of Health inaugurated the Ministerial Committee on provision of health insurance for retirees and the aged in the country.
Ehanire stressed that the inauguration was in furtherance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision to improve access to healthcare and promote the wellbeing of ageing citizens through provision of health insurance, as elderly and retirees of 60 years and above, make up 6 to 7 percent, being 15 million out of Nigeria’s population.
He said, “The covd-19 pandemic has made it obvious that about 60–80 percent of older persons have pre-existing medical conditions requiring regular medications. Depending solely on a pension allowance that is barely enough to meet basic household needs, they experience an extra burden that defeats the essence of pension and may fall into depression.
“We are here today 30th November 2020 for an activity that could bring help to the Elderly in our society and it is to inaugurate members of a Ministerial Committee to examine options for the provision of Health Insurance for Retirees and the Elderly in Nigeria.”
The Committee, which draws its members from different Ministries and sectors, and Chaired by Mr. Linus Awute, will assess the current situation of health Insurance coverage and access to health care for retirees and senior citizens (over 60 years) in Nigeria, develop a National Framework for the effective Health Insurance Coverage of Retirees and Senior citizens; and make recommendations to the Minister of Health on the potential resource mobilization as well as other mechanisms for the successful implementation of the framework, among other terms of reference.