The minister said there are plans to strengthen governance, improve population health outcomes, focus on improving the economic value chain for health, as well as public health security.
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, has said there is an urgent need to produce strategic and accurate data if Nigeria is to improve its health outcomes.
Mr Pate said this in Abuja, Nigeria Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Monday at a strategic retreat of the National Assembly Health Committees for the development of the legislative health agenda of the 10th National Assembly.
The minister, who was represented by the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics of the ministry, Chris Isokpunwu, said data is critical to know how to accurately and strategically budget for the population in the country.
He said there are plans to strengthen governance, improve population health outcomes, and focus on improving the economic value chain for health, as well as public health security.
He, however, said all of these are galvanised by data, “because whatever decision you want to take, if you have the right kind of information and data, coming out from a quality source, then you are likely to get it right.”
“The point is that the Ministry of Health is the authentic and authoritative source for health data in the country. So if you want to quote health data, quote data from the ministry,” he said.
“For example, if you know that 18 per cent of children have not received vaccination, your data would also point to where these children are, so you know how to budget, how to allocate resources and how to target interventions.”
The two-day retreat is organised by the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), the World Health Organisation, and other development partners.
The retreat is themed “Setting a Legislative Health Agenda Towards Strengthening Nigeria’s Primary Health Care System and Health Institutions for UHC and Resilience.”
Speaking at the event, the Director of Projects, dRPC, Stanley Ukpai, said the retreat is an opportunity for the legislators, especially in the health committees to become well acquainted with issues in the health sector.
Mr Ukpai noted that the gathering is also a form of continuity in the transition process where knowledge is being transferred from the leadership of the last assembly to the present assembly.
“It is a good opportunity to get familiar with some of the issues in the healthcare sector. It is a buildup on the last administration,” he said.
‘This is a good example of what continuity should be, and as a launchpad for consolidating on the gains that the previous administration has achieved and begin to reduce the indices of things like maternal mortality, neonatal mortality and the rest,” he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ipalibo Banigo, said the core objectives of the retreat are to enlighten the principal officers of the National Assembly of the critical challenges in the health sector and the efforts towards improving health outcomes and attaining UHC.
Ms Banigo said the legislature plays a crucial role in ensuring national development, and implementing policies.
She noted that the activities of the legislative network for the UHC will strengthen the interface between the legislature, the executives, the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, health institutions, donor agencies, and development partners who have health agenda as priority.
“It will aid the legislature in the health committee to bridge knowledge gaps, improve communication and interagency collaboration in our legislative functions,” she said.
Ms Banigo, the immediate deputy governor of Rivers State, said the retreat will set a collective legislative health agenda for the health sector for the next four years.
She said it will also identify roles of the various health committees and other actors, establish collaboration and partnerships among the health committees and members of the executives, as well as other stakeholders to achieve the health reform objectives of the country.