As the 2023 general elections approach, the Nigeria Health Watch is to host the eighth edition of the Future of Health Conference on Thursday, October 13, 2022, with the theme, “The Political Economy of Health: Investing in the Future of Nigeria.”
The organisation’s Managing Director, Vivianne Ihekweazu, told journalists, yesterday, that the aim of the flagship conference is to provide a visible platform for critical stakeholders in healthcare, finance, politics and other allied sectors to discuss factors influencing Nigeria’s health policies; how political, social and economic factors shape individual and population health outcomes; health service development within the economic and political context and how to create a national health service that meets the needs of all Nigerians.
Ihekweazu said the 2023 general elections are an opportunity to take advantage of the potential policy window to push healthcare up the political agenda and ensure that it takes its rightful place of prominence alongside the economy, security and other priority issues in the political discourse.
She said the politicisation of health has seen the increased involvement of political leaders in health affairs and has revealed the need for greater political will and commitment to drive lasting changes in the nation’s health agenda.
“There is need to prioritise health policies, as it is in the enlightened self-interest of political leaders to drive health policies that lead to improved access to quality and equitable healthcare for citizens. Ultimately, we need to push health up the political agenda if we are to make any meaningful progress toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and if we want to see an improvement in Nigeria’s health indices,” Ihekweazu said.
She added: “The recent pandemic exposed how fragile our health sector is and we need to create an avenue for discourse to ensure that our leaders and policymakers prioritise healthcare as a critical investment and catalyst for economic growth.”
Ihekweazu added that continuous advocacy is essential for the development and implementation of policies that effect positive change, growth, and development in Nigeria’s healthcare system.
The objectives of the 2022 Future of Health Conference are to:
1. Foster dialogue among critical stakeholders in policymaking, economics, and healthcare on the need for more innovative, scalable, and sustainable healthcare strategies
2. Amplify the role of local, state, and federal government in creating a more favourable environment for better healthcare access to achieve better health outcomes for individuals and communities
3. Advocate for the development and implementation of policies that effect positive change, growth, and development for Nigeria’s healthcare system
4. Share a seven-point communiqué that can be disseminated to relevant stakeholders in public and private sectors, through print media, which would highlight key outputs from the conference
Speaking about the conference, Communications Manager, Nigeria Health Watch, Uche Nwagboso, said that next year’s general elections will be pivotal as the focus is on ensuring that the discourse on health goes beyond policymakers in the health sector, but also people outside the health sector as health affects everyone. “We have an amazing line-up of speakers who will be speaking on key issues such as the economy of health, politics, and health, and political leadership in health.”
Nwagboso added: “Expected lineup of speakers includes experts and thought leaders in from the public and private sector, finance organisations, policymakers, and influencers at state and national levels, development professionals from civil society organisations and state public service officers.”
The Future of Health Conference is Nigeria Health Watch’s flagship event and previous conferences have focused on Universal Health Coverage in 2015, Health Meets Tech in 2016, Business of Health in 2017, The Diaspora as Nigeria’s Brain Gain in 2018, Quality in Healthcare in 2019, Innovations in Health in 2020, and Gender Equality – Breaking Glass Ceilings in 2021.
The Future of Health conference, this year, will be a hybrid event to enable a wider audience to participate in the discussions.