National Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Response Action Plan Undergoes Validation

……………To be ratified by National Council on Health.

Friday, 19 of June, 2020: Departments and Agencies of Federal Ministry of Health have taken a second look at the National Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Response Action Plan for their input before the document is submitted to other stakeholders and partners of the Ministry on its way to the National Council on Health for final adoption. A Special National Council on Health Meeting has already being scheduled to take place latest by the next 2 weeks.

In a press release signed by the Ministry’s Director, Information, Media & Public Relations, Olujimi Oyetomi, he said that the journey of the Plan began when the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire constituted an eight-man committee tasked with “reviewing and harmonizing all existing COVID-19 plans into a single response plan strategically placed to address the issue of community transmission while sustaining actions which are already in place in response to the pandemic and ensuring maintenance of the routine essential health services.” The committee commenced activities on 16th April 2020 with the secretariat was domiciled within the Department of Special Projects.

The Honourable Minister also approved mobilization of partners to support the Ministry to facilitate the process and ensure delivery of a document that is reflective of the situation and meet the needs of the entire health sector.

The partners include the WHO, DFID (through the Lafiya Project) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) which continued to support the process till the time it was ready for validation by the Departments and Agencies (DPAs) of FMOH on Friday, 19 of June, 2020.

Dr Osagie Ehanire

The draft plan was presented during the virtual National Council on Health (NCH) which held on Tuesday, 21st April, 2020 and noted by the Council. Since then, several drafts of the document have been circulated to all relevant Departments, Agencies for review and comments. Each draft was being updated with relevant comments as received from DPAs.

A special Top Management Committee (TMC) Meeting of FMOH also discussed the document and as part of the process leading to its finalization. So, it can safely be concluded that the document is a product of rigorous process of engagement and multiple reviews by all the DPAs under the FMoH and WHO and it is expected to meet the need of all actors in the health sector and also act as a single point of entry for all to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has since approved further steps that are to be taken following the validation meeting at FMOH’s DPAs’ level to include:

I. Convening a Special NCH to create awareness, endorsement and buy-in by States;

II. Presentation of the action plan document to the Nigeria Governors Forum;

III. Engagement with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19) to streamline the Health sector plan with the PTF- COVID-19 plan;

IV. Convening and Presentation of the National Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Response Action Plan to Health Partners Coordination Committee meeting.

The well attended validation included the representatives of the Departments and Agencies of the Ministry as well as consultants on the document.

Dr. Ehanire commended the plan as a bold effort especially that those who worked to bring out the plan made projections on cost and for being able to articulate the roles played by every Department and Agency and projected well into a period of 3 years drawing on the lessons from the management of the Ebola outbreak. Those who may want to take a glimpse into the plan should also expect to see the cost projections.

The objective of the Plan was to leverage on “the current sense of urgency and national security concerns to catalyze the resolution of perennial broader health system challenges, enhance value-for-money in delivering essential health services and strengthen the resilience of the national health system.”

To achieve the above stated objective, the plan seeks to leverage on the “core mandates and competencies of MDAs to foster cross-agency synergy and learning.”

The Integrated Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan will be critical to:

Ensuring that a single integrated view exists that eliminates unnecessary fragmentations, duplications, and overlaps, clarifies adjacencies, and defines responsibilities between the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and the States’ Ministries of Health;

Ensuring an articulated engagement with the private sector in response to the current pandemic to build resilience on the health system now and for the future;

Ensuring a holistic view of all health management issues beyond COVID-19 (e.g., public hospital resource management, family health), balancing resources, making choices and articulating between COVID-19 and non- COVID-19 related topics;

Offering a holistic view of all financial resources needed to fight the pandemic, facilitate post-pandemic recovery and ensure continuity of non-COVID 19 related health services and that accompanies the relationship with donors with the overall objective of achieving a balanced allocation of funds across all Nigerian health priorities.

The proposed Integrated Health Sector Response plan is derived from Pillar 4, Priority Area 1 of the NSHDP II which envelopes the NCDC IAP (which itself is aligned with the PTF Pandemic Multi-sectoral Plan). In addition to the NCDC IAP, this plan contains and harmonizes the strategies of all relevant agencies in the health sector at the Federal level, including the Primary Healthcare Development Agencies, Health Insurance Schemes, NAFDAC, NIPRD, NIMR, as well as the private sector health system into ‘ONE RESPONSE PLAN”.

The Plan also covers the Federal Ministry of Health’s support to strengthen the States’ health systems’ resilience to respond to the pandemic in the near-, medium- and long-term outlines strategies to maintain the provision of essential health services and describes linkages to other multi-sectoral responses against COVID 19.

In its operation, the plan is designed around three-time horizons: near-term, medium-term, and long-term. It is also designed to be flexible to respond to changing needs. For Near-term (0-6 months) – the focus is on rapid initiation of preventive and control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Medium-term (6-18 months) will deal with fluctuating numbers of cases as understanding and management improves. The Long-term is from 18-36+ months.

The expected outcome of the Health Plan is to Control Transmission, Reduce Morbidity and Mortality, Protect and Care for Vulnerable Populations, foster Stewardship and Coordination of National Health System Response, engender Innovative Financing and Operations and Learning Agenda.

The Honourable Minister has since expressed appreciation to everyone that contributed to the development of the document which he described as “important” especially the WHO, DFID through the Lafiya Project and Boston Consulting Group (BGC) for their continued support towards the process and also expressed the hope that “the document will guide us to bring an end to the pandemic in Nigeria.”

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