Lawrence Enyoghasu, Lagos

The Nigeria Universal Health Coverage Actions Network (NUHCAN) has demanded immediate implementation of the National Health Act 2014 (NHAct 2014) as effective measures that will lead to the success of the mitigation efforts of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) against the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

The group made the demand through the Executive Secretary, Dr Uzodinma Adirieje, adding that the lack of participation by civil society organisation in the first wave of the pandemic almost led to complacency by the public.

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“We demand that current move to review the NHAct 2014 be suspended until it has been sufficiently implemented and its provisions tested and that any funds appropriated for the Review/Amendment of NHAct 2014 which has hardly been implemented so as to know the gaps and shortcomings therein, should immediately be applied to strengthening its implementation through the improvement of the Nation’s Primary Health Care facilities by skilling the manpower, providing equipment, drugs, tests, utilities, etc. It is also imperative that the implementation of the NHAct 2014 must be subjected to professional evaluation based on an official report of its implementation from inception. What are, therefore, overdue include the presentation, validation of the report of the implementation of the NHAct2014, review of the implementation by stakeholders including NUHCAN and civil society, and professional evaluation of the implementation in order to have informed positions and recommendations based on which further actions shall be agreed upon.

“The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 should engage NUHCAN and the civil society, to sensitise and mobilise Nigerians at the grassroots in the communities, on the correct COVID-19 mitigation approach and information in their local languages, including Pidgin English, to counter the mis/dis-information about COVID-19 disease without further delays, as the current state of complacency and abandonment of the proven mitigation messages poses a huge risk to public health if the second phase of this deadly pandemic currently ravaging Europe and USA reaches Nigeria’s shores, now that international flights have resumed after the Lockdown.

“The PTF should immediately use the current fortuitous low point of the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, to extend its mitigation efforts to the primary health care tier of the health system, so that both COVID-19 disease and non-COVID-19 conditions are given adequate attention, and demands that the PTF should without further delay engage and commission NUHCAN member-CSOs in the on-going information dissemination and sensitisation aspect of the campaign, if Nigeria is not to fail to achieve the UHC by 2030, which will be another disaster, even as damaging as the pandemic, if not more,” he stated.