Coalition of Civil Society Organisations acting under the aegis of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health @Scale Project (PACFaH) has urged the Federal Government to adopt one kobo per second mobile tax to fund Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The coalition made the call at a news conference to commemorate the 2018 International Universal Health Coverage Day marked every Dec. 12 worldwide, with the theme “Unite for universal health coverage: Now is the time for collective action”.
Mr Ayo Adebusoye, the Secretary General of Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organisations (NNNNGO), one of the panelists, identified mobile phone tax as one of the innovative and surest ways to actualise UHC.
Adebusoye explained that such tax would involve charging one kobo per second on every outgoing phone calls from the Nigerian populace.
According to him, UHC means all Nigerians get quality health services where and when needed without suffering financial burden.
Dr Edwin Akpotor, Programme Manager, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN)-PACFaH @Scale Project, explained that UHC required universal contributions.
Akpotor noted that the only way to achieve universal contribution was to utilise the mobile phone tax which every Nigerian can contribute their quota.
He emphasised that the nation was unable to achieve 100 per cent UHC because of inability to solve the problem where every citizen would have to contribute to quality healthcare.
According to him, the propose of one kobo per second tax on every outgoing mobile phone call is to see how everyone can contribute for us to have UHC.
“At the moment less than five per cent are covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),” he said.
He emphasised that such tax would enable the citizens access free healthcare without any financial burden, adding that at the long run such fund will be used to pay for healthcare services.
“One of the ways to have everyone covered is by looking at tax that is common to everyone. In Nigeria everybody has a cell phone, so if you take one kobo per second you discovered that everybody is contributing.
“The money, which will be domiciled in TSA account both the government, CSOs, media, among others, will collaborate and decide the modalities of its implementation for UHC as well as enrolling everyone in NHIS.
“For example, if MTN or other network providers collect this money from customers it goes directly to a secured account, so if any Nigerian need healthcare service he or she will be treated freely while the government pay from such fund,” he explained.
Adebusoye recalled that on Dec. 12, 2012, the United Nations unanimously affirmed UHC as an important pillar of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and urged CSOs and International organisations to make it part of the development agenda.
He noted that prior to the global movement of UHC, Nigeria developed health policies and structures like the National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP-1) and NHIS to increase access to healthcare.
The secretary general however noted that in spite of these structure the country was unable to achieve the objectives of ensuring that every citizen has access to healthcare.
Adebusoye further urged the Federal Government to release the Basic Health Care Provision Fund in 2018 health budget without delay and as well urged all tiers of government to fund, implement and ensure accountability of the second NSHDP to achieve UHC. (NAN)