The Government of Nigeria hosted a three-day workshop in January 2018 to officially launch two technical collaboratives under the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria (NJLN) and provide an opportunity for states to engage in experience sharing and joint problem-solving around identified priority topics.
The NJLN, initiated by the JLN Nigeria Country Core Group (CCG), consists of the Federal Ministry of Health, National Primary Health Care Development Agency and National Health Insurance Scheme. The network aims to model the practitioner-to-practitioner learning of the global JLN by connecting Nigerian government leaders from state health agencies to enable learning exchange, knowledge co-production and the adaptation of learning in support of universal health coverage (UHC), both across states and between the state and federal levels.
Two New Learning Collaboratives
The NJLN launched two collaboratives at their January meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, with 18 Nigerian states in attendance. The Primary Health Care Strengthening collaborative will focus on public financial management and human resources and the Operationalizing State Social Health Insurance Schemes collaborative will focus on informal sector engagement and resource mobilization.
Some key takeaways from the workshop include:
- Primary health care (PHC) is foundational: it is the bedrock of the health system and essential for achieving UHC. Evidence shows that a health system based on strong primary care delivers better health outcomes at lower costs and can mitigate the impact of poor economic conditions on health.
- Evidence-based advocacy and stakeholder engagement at all levels are essential for achieving political buy-in for the implementation of UHC reforms:
- “I want to encourage all of us, that we need to be in the driver’s seat. We need to be more aggressive about telling the government how the money they are trying to bring can be used more sustainably." - Sola Akande, Oyo State
- “With push and passion, we can move forward. I learned that I need to give a stronger push and be more focused on political economy to be successful in Abia.” - Ubani Ukoma B. C., Abia State
- Adequate and sustainable health financing, strong leadership and governance, high levels of community involvement, and sufficient numbers of competent and motivated health workers are needed to strengthen PHC and provide high-quality health services
- Enforcement of mandatory participation in social health insurance will be essential to preventing adverse selection and ensuring sustainability of the scheme
At the end of the workshop, states committed to co-develop (1) a how-to handbook or guide on operationalizing state social health insurance schemes and (2) a toolkit for improving financial management capacity and human resources for health availability at health facilities. NJLN members will re-convene in March 2018 via a webinar to work on co-developing the knowledge products. A second network workshop will be held in April 2018.
The NJLN is co-funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Health Finance and Governance Project and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in collaboration with the World Bank. Additional support for state participation is provided by the World Bank and the Nigeria Maternal Newborn and Child Health Program, with Results for Development Institute (R4D) and Solina Health engaged as network coordinators.