President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday, at the Federal Executive Council (FEC), meeting approved three resolutions aimed at strengthening the health and social welfare sector to better deliver to Nigerians.
Professor Ali Pate, coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the council meeting at Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the steps are targeted at relieving the escalating cost of pharmaceuticals, funding of health sector regulatory bodies and mitigating the human resource flight in the sector.
He explained that the Executive Order aims to enable local drug manufacturers to thrive while ensuring fair pricing of essential medicines explaining that this became necessary following the exit of major multinational pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria, reducing competition.
He said, “Consistent with the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda, which puts to the human capital, health and social welfare of Nigerians at the center, today at the Federal Executive Council, Mr. President took three far-reaching decisions relating to the health sector.
“The first is on the rising cost of pharmaceuticals, the hike in prices that we have in the pharmaceutical, which is going beyond the reach of many Nigerians, life-saving commodities, devices like syringes and needles and the exit of major companies from our market.
“Those decisions also include the regulation of the sector to protect the health and wellbeing of humans and the third decision is regarding how we deal with the crisis of human resources in the health sector.
“The first on the syringes, drugs, pharmaceuticals and other devices, as you’ll recall, Mr President, in his wisdom, at the end of last year, in October, approved an initiative to unlock the healthcare value-chain and appointed coordinator for that.
“But we know that the price of pharmaceuticals have escalated and many entities have decided to withdraw and some of the local manufacturers in Nigeria are struggling.
“The President’s intent is that we begin to take steps to enable the local manufacturers to survive, to thrive and to deliver the basic commodities that are key to saving their lives.
“And he directed that the Attorney General of the Federation work with us to come up with an Executive Order, which is the mechanism through which he will act, given the concern that he has that many Nigerians are suffering from the costs of pharmaceuticals, as well as other devices.
“That is the first important step and that should be coming very soon.”
The minister also said to strengthen healthcare regulation and protect citizens, key regulatory bodies including the Medical and Dental Council will continue to receive funding, except for cuts impacting other professional associations.
Also, to address the shortage of healthcare workers and brain drain, Pate said the council has delegated approval of recruitment waivers to the Health Ministry directly, explaining that this will accelerate hiring and reduce delays.
“The third is regarding the acute human resource shortage that we have. We know and having gone around many of our hospitals, particularly federal tertiary hospitals, that the replacement of health workers who leave oftentimes takes a very long time because the waiver process takes several stages.
“Mr. President directed in council that the approvals of those waivers be delegated to the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare so that it doesn’t have to go through the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
“That will hasten the recruitment of health workers in terms of those who are out there unemployed, within limits of their fiscal resources.
“All in all, to say that the President is very keen that we drive forward to safeguard the health of Nigerians, to earn the confidence, the trust of Nigerians and to deliver for Nigerians in this new year that we have started and the marching orders are very clear,” he added.