Media group in Abuja to review advocacy strategies on National Health Act

By Blogger 
(Abdulkareem Haruna)

Media Advocates on NHA at the meeting
Today  a creme of 30 journalists from across Nigeria converged in
 Abuja, Nigeria's capital, under the auspices of Partnership to Engagement, Reform and Learn (#PERL), a non-governmental organisation, to review  strategies for implementation of National Health Act.

At a closed technical session facilitated by +Lauratu Umar and +Edwin Onoja, both of +PERL, the media participants shared their experiences on the respective efforts invested in the last seven months towards echoing the advocacy for adoption and possible implementation of the #NHA.

The Nigerian NHA came into force in 2014 after about four years of rigorous legislative process to address the labrynthine issues that have for years plagued the country's healthcare system. 

Nigeria, according to WHO recent survey, ranked number 187 out of the 190 sampled countries on Global Healthcare Index. 
Kareem's Pick Blog investigations revealed that Nigeria, a country of nearly 180 million people has 33, 303 general hospitals, 20, 278 primary healthcare centres and 59 teaching hospitals across the country. And sadly, most of these health facilities are either not operating optimally or underfunded. 

From the various presentations made at the Abuja meeting, each participants shared common experiences in challenges and lessons learnt for improved advocacy strategy.
From most presentations, it was clear that the challenge is still huge especially in the areas of public awareness of the Act, government commitment, poor funding of health care facilities, non existence of #HealthInsurance services, among others.

The technical session agreed that there is still more work to be done in the task of promoting a universal basic  healthcare for Nigerians as enshrined in the National Health Act.

To this end, the Session agrees that follow-ups should be sustained in most areas of the advocacy strategies for efficacious results.
That journalists should do more reports on the poor healthcare issues in their various states with the aim of not only bringing to fore the problems in the health sector  but also the imperatives of implementing the NHA.

That participants should also focus on the healthcare budget outcomes rather than fixating on the sizes of the Budget.
At the end of the meeting, participants made various  commitments to carry on the awareness creation; improved engagement with stakeholders; promoting the issues of NHA on social media; engage non-governmental stakeholders like road transport unions; expand the media network, focus on other aspects of healthcare in media reports; and get the involvement of #CSOs in the push for domestication of the NHA.

Other commitments made by the media advocates include community level advocacy, engaging hospital medical Directors, to leverage on all opportunities to engage stakeholders;  and that PERL should facilitate access to the media stakeholders to key healthcare organs like the certificate of standard committee, among others.

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