Understanding the Cost-Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccination in Nigeria

Benjamin Uzochukwu, Chinyere Okeke, Sergio Torres-Rueda, Carl Pearson, Eleanor Bergren, Anthony McDonnell, Anna Vassall, Mark Jit, Francis Ruiz
Researchers from the Health Policy Research Group (Prof Benjamin Uzochukwu and Dr Chinyere Okeke) were part of a project that sought to understand the cost-effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in terms of procurement and administration. This was documented by the Centre for Global Development (CDG), presenting useful information in scaling up campaigns against COVID-19 and improving responses to future pandemics in Nigeria.
Indeed, COVID-19 has disrupted health systems across the globe. Nigeria reported its first COVID-19 case in February 2020, and, since then, the government has rolled out four vaccines to help control the pandemic—Moderna, Oxford-Astra Zeneca (AZ), Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer-BioNTech.
Nigeria set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 40 percent of its over 200 million people before the end of 2021, and 70 percent by the end of 2022. The vaccine rollout was organised into four phases, as shown in table 1. Access to vaccines in Nigeria has been limited, however, and vaccine hesitancy has further slowed down deployment. There is also limited evidence on the comparative clinical and cost-effectiveness of COVID-19 interventions—including vaccination—in the Nigerian context specifically.
Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is a framework for assessing whether healthcare interventions—including vaccines—offer good value for money and take into account a wide range of considerations. The University of Nigeria Nsukka, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Center for Global Development, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control collaborated to support key national and regional stakeholders in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccine strategies using an HTA framework.
  1. Which COVID-19 vaccines should Nigeria purchase and how much would it cost?
  2. How should these vaccines be distributed?
  3. What age groups should be targeted?
To read more click here

Using Modeled Evidence in Nigeria’s Health System: understanding the gaps and promoting the value of evidence-based decision making

By Chinyere Mbachu, Prince Agwu, God’stime Eigbiromolen, Ifunanya Agu, Benjamin Uzochukwu and Obinna Onwujekwe
Statistics makes it possible to simulate real life behaviors using models, and this is termed ‘modeled evidence. Mathematical models that simulate different potential health scenarios around disease transmission, and/or the impact of policy interventions on health outcomes, can be valuable to decision makers. They can be used to prioritize and choose between complex trade-offs and ensure the best possible results in efficiency, effectiveness and impact of health policies and interventions.
Literature has shown that, although policymakers are aware of the need to make decisions that are based on scientific evidence, they do not regularly put this concept into practice. This is particularly the case with modeled evidence. Recent disease outbreaks and disasters have highlighted the need for a more proactive health system that anticipates and prepares ahead of health emergencies. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) relied extensively on evidence from mathematical models to understand the trajectory of the epidemic and to develop an appropriate response strategy.
As the usefulness of modeled evidence gains more traction in the Nigerian health system, it is necessary to learn how policymakers can be supported to use modeled evidence in decision making. This could be achieved by examining the extent to which modeled-evidence is understood, valued and used by decision makers, as well as the factors/mechanisms that enable or constrain the translation of modeled-evidence to decision-making.


Figure 1: Translation of Modeled Evidence to Policy: Nigeria’s Ecosystem Canvas
The target audience for this policy brief comprises all the stakeholders in the modeling to decision making ecosystem, including modelers, decision makers, and knowledge brokers who facilitate exchange between them.
Click here to download and read the full policy brief.
Acknowledgement: This project was done in partnership with Results4Development and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Suggested citation: Chinyere Mbachu, Prince Agwu, God’stime Eigbiromolen, Ifunanya Agu, Benjamin Uzochukwu and Obinna Onwujekwe (2022). Values, gaps and getting evidence generated from modeling into decision making in the Nigerian health system. A Policy Brief from the Translation of Modeled Evidence for Decision Making project in Nigeria.

“The pandemic is not over, as its impact persists in Nigeria’s health system”: Professor Onwujekwe at the Congress of Postgrads’ Medical Fellows

By HPRG News
The effects of COVID-19 pandemic continue to bite health systems, particularly those of low-resource regions. Quoting the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerabilities in health systems can have profound implications for health, economic progress, trust in governments, and social cohesion”. The question of strengthening health systems has been recurring since the pandemic and has gotten more answers than actions. However, the conversations must not cease, as it is needful to keep discovering and reminding ourselves of those areas in our health system that have been affected by the pandemic, while underscoring practicable solutions. It is in this regard that Professor Obinna Onwujekwe of the Departments of Health Administration & Management/Pharmacology & Therapeutics and the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria delivered a lecture, titled “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare delivery in Nigeria” at the 16th Annual Scientific Conference and All Fellows’ Congress of the Postgraduate Medical College Fellows’ Association that held at Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos in August 2022.


Figure 1: Cross-section of participants
Prof Obinna questioned the resilience of Nigeria’s health system for its failure to achieve the health-related MDGs and its slow pace toward the 2030 health-related SDGs targets. He showcased the indicators that reveal low-level access to quality healthcare services in Nigeria and minimal financial risk protection for health service users. He discussed further how the pandemic disrupted the delivery of essential health services like antenatal, post-partum, intrapartum care, family planning, vaccination services as well as treatment of non-communicable diseases, as health facilities were forced to shut down, some even shutting down unofficially. The impacts of this lack of resilience on morbidity and mortality cannot be overstated. For instance, UNICEF projected that an additional 950 Nigerian children might die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted routine services. The figure below shows the steep downward dive in antenatal visits as the pandemic persisted:


Figure 2: Antenatal attendance fell drastically in 2020 compared to 2019 (MSDAT, 2020)
Click here to gain access to the full content of the lecture.
How to cite: Onwujekwe, O. (2022). Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare delivery in Nigeria. https://hprgunn.com/the-pandemic-is-not-over-as-its-impacts-persist-in-nigerias-healthcare-professor-onwujekwe-at-the-congress-of-postgrads-medical-fellows/

Surviving and Thriving in the Post-Pandemic Era: Exploring Research, Science and Innovation at the University of Nigeria

By Chidi Nzeadibe, Geraldine Ugwuonah, Obinna Onwujekwe, Bennett Nwanguma, Theresa Ogbuanya, Paul Oranu, Emmanuel Ezeani, Chinonso Igwesi-Chidobe, Chizoba Obianuju Oranu, Paul Adeosun and Felix Egara
Why yet another conference on Covid-19 Pandemic?
COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the most serious global challenge since World War II. The 1st Annual Multidisciplinary International Conference of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) which took place from 5th – 7th July 2021 was convened to explore the role of research, science and innovation arising from the institution and elsewhere in surviving and thriving in the post-COVID era.  The theme of the maiden conference was A Whole New World: Research, Development and Innovation in the Pandemic Era. In his remark, the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Professor Charles Arizechukwu Igwe, FAS, noted that the choice of this theme reflected the university’s recognition of the huge impact that COVID-19 continues to have on public health systems, society, food systems, education, and economies which have led to massive transformations in the way we live and work.
Mainstreaming Science and Innovation in Management of Pandemics- The UNN Example 
The pandemic has given rise to significant research, development and innovation possibilities across different fields of human endeavour, typically with the varying aims of understanding, overcoming or adapting to the challenges posed by COVID-19.  At the University of Nigeria, many researchers have sought to leverage the opportunities inherent in the adversity of the pandemic to come up with research outputs with huge potential to improve lives and livelihoods and for overcoming or adapting to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The UNN International conference brought together researchers, policymakers, development partners, NGOs and research funders both in Nigeria and beyond to explore research, development and innovations in various disciplines within the context of COVID-19. In line with the realities of the pandemic and to utilize innovations in ICT and remote learning and working, presentations at the conference were done virtually through the Zoom app. Other applicable COVID-19 protocols were also observed.
Science for Social Relevance: Views of the Public Health Expert
The conference keynote paper entitled A Whole New World: Research, Development and Innovation in the Post-Pandemic Era was presented by the globally acknowledged expert on Virology and Infectious Diseases, and Chairman of Nigeria’s Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19 (MEACoC), and former President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Professor Oyewale Tomori, FAS. He described COVID-19 as ‘the evasive, invasive, elusive, invisible one’ that came to expose the underbelly of our decadent healthcare system and the depravity in our society. Harping on the role of Nigerian scientists in the fight against the pandemic, Prof Tomori averred that:
“the scientists in Nigeria should identify with and be seen by the society as part of the society, must be asking the right questions relating to the problems of our society, must focus research activities on the directions of questions asked, and in collaboration with the government must seek relevance in serving and meeting the identified needs of the society”.
Effective Science Communication: dispelling myth, providing context
In a goodwill message, conference partners – The Conversation Africa (TC-Africa) noted that researchers from the UNN have been writing for the website since 2016 in their mission to mainstream the voices of universities and scientists in the media and to support science engagement and science communication activities in Africa. So far, 41 authors from the UNN have published 37 articles (out of which 16 focused on COVID-19 and other health-related topics) which have been read over 200,000 times. With a monthly readership of 2.5 million, participation of TC-Africa is particularly significant to global dissemination of results of research from this conference. TC-Africa recently recognized the University of Nigeria among the Top Universities in Africa, and her researchers for the most published articles and most read article during the 2nd Annual West Africa Science Communication Awards.
Going forward: Translating research outputs to policy and action
Nearly 200 papers from multidisciplinary perspectives were presented in 33 panels and 6 technical sessions. Topical issues discussed and lessons included innovations in health systems and management, agricultural innovations and food security, lifestyle changes and adaptive behaviours, urban planning innovations and informal settlements, sustainable education, remote learning and digital innovation, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
A major impact of the conference was the massive public awareness it created, dispelling myths that Nigerians are immune to SARS-CoV-2 and that COVID-19 is a hoax, and also providing context on the pandemic through timely publications in print and electronic media. Research funders both in Nigeria and outside the country were urged to key into the research, development and innovations possibilities at this conference and collaborate with the university to support uptake of the outputs of this conference and other related research projects. It is expected that the quantum of ideas, methodologies and actionable policy recommendations from this conference will contribute immeasurably to global effort at dealing with the pandemic and that products of this conference will help to chart a new development course in the post-pandemic era.
Authors’ bios
  • Chidi Nzeadibe is Professor of Geography and Chair of the Conference Committee Twitter: @NzeadibeChidi
  • Obinna Onwujekwe is Professor of health economics, policy and pharmacoeconomics, and, Director of Research, UNN
  • Geraldine Ugwuonah is Professor of Marketing
  • Bennett Nwanguma is Professor of Biochemistry and Chair, Senate Ceremonials Committee, UNN
  • Theresa Ogbuanya is Professor of Industrial Technical Education   
  • Paul Oranu is the Director of ICT, UNN                                             
  • Emmanuel Ezeani is Professor of Political Science and Director UNN Consult
  • Chinonso Igwesi-Chidobe is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Rehabilitation
  • Chizoba Oranu is a Lecturer in Agricultural Economics
  • Paul Adeosun is a Lecturer in Agricultural Economics
  • Felix Egara is a Lecturer in Science Education and Conference Committee Secretary.
We acknowledge Dr Charles Orjiakor for the review of this blog.
How to Cite
Nzeadibe, C., Ugwuonah, G., Onwujekwe, O., Nwanguma, B., Ogbuanya, T., Oranu, P., …, Egara, F. (2022). Surviving and thriving in the post-pandemic era: exploring research, science and innovation at the University of Nigeria. https://hprgunn.com/surviving-and-thriving-in-the-post-pandemic-era-exploring-research-science-and-innovation-at-the-university-of-nigeria/

National Centre of African Health Observatory Platform completes kickoff meeting for documentation of Nigeria’s Health System and Services Profile

By HPRG News
Nigeria’s health system is on a path of growth and keeps evolving. Information about the country’s health system is fragmented, which has occasioned the need for rapid harmonization led by the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP). The Country Health System and Services Profile (CHSSP) will provide an in-depth description and analysis of Nigeria’s health system and services. It is likewise being conducted in Rwanda, Senegal, Kenya, and Ethiopia, which will provide the basis for comparing the health system and services’ performance across these five countries. The CHSSP is designed to be a key reference document for a wide audience including country-level policy-makers, technical staff, researchers, and development partners. They are intended to provide relevant country-specific and comparative information to support policymaking, analysis, and implementation of approaches related to the re-engineering of health systems and services in the African region.
To commence documenting Nigeria’s CHSSP, the Health Policy Research Group (HPRG), University of Nigeria, which hosts the Nigerian National Centre of AHOP conducted its kickoff meeting to prepare authors for the task ahead. The meeting took place at Hotel Sylvia, Enugu, from 13th – 15th June 2022. Partners with the HPRG on the CHSSP project were in attendance, and they include Veritas University, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria (FMoH), and a representative of the World Health Organisation.

Nigeria’s CHSSP Authors
During the meeting, Dr. Enyi Etiaba who is the Project Manager of AHOP in Nigeria emphasized the overall goals of AHOP in the directions of knowledge synthesis and evidence translation, as she stated that the CHSSP is one of the outputs of the stated goals. She used this opportunity to ensure that all CHSSP authors are aligned with the ideals of AHOP, even as they work on the CHSSP project.
Dr Enyi Etiaba introducing AHOP and CHSSP

Documenting the CHSSP will need a uniform reference manager. The gathering was an opportunity for all authors to run through the endnote reference manager, as the approved reference manager for CHSSP documentation. Facilitated by Dr Chinyere Mbachu, authors successfully downloaded the endnote reference manager, went through step-by-step process of uploading reference materials and sources into it, and could make citations as they write. Authors are expected to make use of the Harvard Referencing Style throughout their writing.
Dr Chinyere Mbachu facilitating a session on Endnote reference manager

In addition to the above, CHSSP authors were introduced to the AHOP writing style by Dr Enyi Etiaba. Important points to note include the use of British style (e.g., use organisation instead of organization), dates should be written without punctuation signs, large figures should be written using spaces as against commas, health care should be written as “health care” and not “healthcare”, hyphenate “evidence-based” when used as an adjective but write without the hyphen when used as a noun, etc. Click here to download AHOP writing style guide.
At about noon time, authors had a virtual meeting with the CHSSP Editors from the London School of Economics (LSE) and WHO-African Region (WHO-AFRO). Concerns drawn from the 11 Chapters of the CHSSP were listed and clarified. The 11 chapters comprise the overall context of Nigeria; organization and governance of the health system; health financing; health workforce; medical products and health technologies; health infrastructure and equipment; service delivery; health information and information systems; performance of the health system (outputs); health services coverage and system outcomes; conclusion and key considerations. The meeting with LSE and WHO-AFRO helped resolved grey areas. It was agreed that authors should keep in touch with the Editors as they write, and lead authors will participate in a monthly meeting with LSE and WHO-AFRO for the duration of the writing stage of the CHSSP project. Also, the overall lead author from the National Centre must go through submissions before they get to the Editors.

Cross-section of CHSSP Authors meeting virtually with LSE and WHO-AFRO
Authors agreed with the Editors on the need to concentrate on national-level data given the timeframe of production and AHOP’s concentration on secondary sources of data. To help the authors, there are some materials in the SharePoint for this project. All authors now have access to the SharePoint. It was also agreed that more time will be allotted to the completion of Chapters 9 and 10 since they are dependent on the completion of the fore chapters. Authors were reminded to concentrate more on the Excel spreadsheet for needed information than the writing template, as some information in the latter may be wrong. Click to download the slides of LSE/WHO-AFRO
According to Professor Obinna Onwujekwe who heads the HPRG and leads the AHOP Nigerian National Centre, the CHSSP when concluded will be both means and end, in the sense that its recommendations will be used for health system strengthening towards the achievement of the health-related SDG targets, especially Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria. As a means, it will also serve as evidence-base for the development of the 3rd National Health Sector Development Plan (NSHDP III), a resource for the planned Nigeria Health Sector Reform Programme and the national UHC plan. It will also provide the required information for the development or revision of policies and strategies in the health sector in Nigeria.
Prince Agwu commented on the dissemination of the CHSSP, which will target academia, policymakers, frontline practitioners, communities, media, and civil societies. Strategies for dissemination will keep evolving and will be cross-sectoral.
More on capacity building, CHSSP authors were taken through data sourcing strategies by Prince Agwu and Uche Ezenwaka. The use of Boolean Operators, introduction to new search engines and databases and the use of keywords were discussed extensively. Uche introduced CHSSP authors to janebiosemantics. On specific data from the Federal Ministry of Health, Martins Otuamah took CHSSP authors through specific databases that will be of help in the documentation process. And finally, on capacity building, Prof BSC Uzochukwu, an HPRG and AHOP National Centre lead took authors through academic writing and production of policy briefs. Authors were exposed to non-linear methods of academic writing and the rationale behind building quality academic arguments. This was one of the high points of the CHSSP meeting.
Download presentation on data sourcing strategies
Download presentation on data sourcing from the Federal Ministry of Health
Download presentation on academic writing and policy brief
On the side, we took this opportunity to go through the projects being worked on by our partners (Veritas University and Nigeria Institute of Medical Research [NIMR]). Dr Chinyere Okeke moderated the presentations from both bodies, and comments were taken after the presentations. Veritas University represented by Ifeanyi Chikezie presented “Assessing the status of state-supported social health insurance schemes in Gombe state, Nigeria”, while NIMR represented by Adewale Ojogbede presented “Utilization of Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme”.
In all, the National Centre is looking forward to 7th July 2022 for first submissions, and 14th and 15th July 2022 for a second workshop that will focus on writing. “We are hopeful authors will stick to the timeframe, and will produce top-quality chapters, which is the signature of the HPRG. Otherwise, we may be forced to substitute authors if and when needed”, as said by the Nigerian AHOP lead, Prof Obinna Onwujekwe.
Photo Gallery

University of Nigeria dazzles in latest global science ranking

By HPRG News
Research.com, a prominent academic platform for scientists, has just published the 2022 Edition of its Global Ranking of Top 1000 Scientists in the area of Social Sciences and Humanities. Three academics from the University of Nigeria, including the University, made the list. Professors Obinna Onwujekwe, Benjamin Uzochukwu, and Jude Ohaeri ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively in Nigeria, and 892, 3052, and 4039 on the globe, respectively. Also, the University of Nigeria is the lone university in Nigeria that made it to the top 400 on the globe in terms of research outputs from the social sciences and humanities. The University of Nigeria is ranked 305 in the world and 1st in Nigeria.
The green entrance of the University of Nigeria
Professors Obinna Onwujekwe, Benjamin Uzochukwu, and Jude Ohaeri have long been listed as tops in several global ratings of scientists. A Google Scholar search on Professor Obinna Onwujekwe as of 9th June 2022, shows that he has 22,287 citations, 54 h-index, and 210 i10-index. While Professor Benjamin Uzochukwu has 25,025 citations, 46 h-index, and 133 i10-index. Unfortunately, we could not retrieve that of Professor Jude Ohaeri at the time of writing. Speaking to Professors Obinna and Benjamin, we can confirm that the duo are not resting or retiring any time soon from active research, especially, implementation research. They are of the view that governance and development rise on the availability and utilization of scientific evidence, and fall on the dearth and weak recognition of it.
Professor Obinna Onwujekwe
Professors Obinna Onwujekwe and Benjamin Uzochukwu run the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria, which is famous for the production of cutting-edge scientific evidence. It is equally a hub for the nurturing of young scientists. Both Professors remain committed to mentorship, as they look forward to young scientists from Africa carving a niche for themselves in global science.
Professor Benjamin Uzochukwu
The ranking by Research.com is constructed using the H-index data gathered by Microsoft Academic and includes only prominent scientists with an H-index of at least 30 for scientific papers published in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Professor Jude Ohaeri
You can see the full world ranking here: https://research.com/scientists-rankings/social-sciences-and-humanities
You can find the entire ranking for Nigeria here: https://research.com/scientists-rankings/social-sciences-and-humanities/ng
As quoted from the words of Imed Bouchrika for Research.com, “… this is indeed an important accomplishment for you and your university”. The Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria joins in congratulating its noble Professors and the University of Nigeria, as it continues in its restoration of man’s dignity!


How countries can make progress towards UHC after transitioning out of DAH: Lessons from Nigeria

By Shalom Obi, Osondu Ogbuoji, Wenhui Mao, Minahil Shahid, Gavin Yamey, and Obinna Onwujekwe
In the coming years, about a dozen middle-income countries are expected to transition out of development assistance for health (DAH). This is so because the eligibility criteria set by most multilateral donors are based on income per capita or rise in GDP. However,  an increase in income per capita does not necessarily mean a reduction in disease burden. For example, despite an increase in GDP, Nigeria still stands out as very unprepared for the upcoming transition, based on poor health indicesvery low domestic financing for health, and poor government commitment to health.
Nigeria is vulnerable to setbacks, in event of health-focused donors exiting its health funding space because the country struggles with a low per capita income, debt burden, weak capacity to efficiently use public resources, limited and less effective health systems, and weak governance and public institutions. More so, considering the low government funding for health (see Figure 1 below), the impending financial gap will most likely shift to out-of-pocket spending which constitutes 75.2% of total health expenditure. This will be catastrophic and may drive more of the vulnerable population below the poverty line. The decline in donor funding has already been reflected in suboptimal service delivery and health service users are now having to pay for previously free-of-charge services. 
Figure 1: Trend of Domestic General Government Health Expenditure (GGHE-D) Global Health Expenditure Database
The more currently appropriated funds for health are not subject to high-level accountability, the effects on the vulnerable may likely to be grave, further drawing the country away from achieving UHC. With changes in DAH and impending transitions, there is an urgent need for sustainable solutions, as stakeholders must begin to think about how to fund healthcare when external funds decrease or end.
For evidence-driven transitioning, away from DAH, stakeholders may wish to refer to a qualitative research that used Vogus and Graff’s expanded framework for evaluating the readiness of Nigeria’s transition. Unfortunately, the illustrated gaps (see Figure 2) identified in the study show that Nigeria is not currently prepared to sustain donor-funded programs and make progress if/when donors leave.

Figure 2: Gaps – using Vogus and Graff’s expanded framework for evaluating country readiness for transition of donor-funded health programs to domestic ownership (Vogus and Graff, 2015)
The above framework shows clearly that Nigerian health system is mostly unprepared to transition out of DAH and make progress towards UHC. This is predominantly due to policy implementation gaps, unaccountability and corruption, and a lack of initial transition plans at the onset of health programs.
Policy implication
To overcome the challenges and bottlenecks that hinder policy implementation and close these gaps,
  • Policymakers should consider the feasibility, sustainability, and accountability of policy implementation during the policy process. They should ensure that there are feasible road maps for apt implementation of pro-UHC policies.
  • Secondly, crucial steps must be taken to ensure that transition plans are factored into program planning from the onset, and not as an addendum. A well-grounded health plan that puts transition in perspective is needed to foster sustainability and progress towards UHC at the time of transition.
  • Nigeria must also endeavor to make political commitment to health – at least improve from current 5% of annual budget allocated to the health sector, while racing toward the 15% commitment as promised in the Abuja declaration of 2001. This will enable the country to integrate healthcare programs and build the overall health system to transition smoothly out of various donor programs, whilst making progress towards UHC. Meeting this commitment has become even more critical given the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Lessons for upcoming transitioning countries
Upcoming cohort of transitioning countries should have a robust transitioning plan in place to sustain gains of donor funds and make progress toward UHC. Transition plans should not be an afterthought, but a well-incorporated aspect of health programs’ plans. Therefore, donors and recipient countries should ensure that transition plans are built into health programs at the planning stage. Furthermore, it is not enough for upcoming transitioning countries to have pro-UHC policies, they should also have roadmaps for implementation, with broad stakeholder involvement. It is also crucial for such countries to give careful consideration to increasing their fiscal space for domestic funding for health, integration of health programs, and building the overall health system. This will engender sustainability and ensure progress towards UHC at the time of transition. Donors and recipient countries should endeavor to have inbuilt transition plans to give direction to program implementation and enable institutionalization of service delivery processes for continuity.
Conclusively, to manage transitions from DAH and make progress towards UHC, the Nigerian government needs to identify and address implementation gaps, as well as systematic gaps in using domestic resources for financing critical health services. Policymakers should identify clear road maps for the implementation of the existing pro-UHC policies. Furthermore, funds should be redirected to building the overall system—consolidating and coordinating programs and linking them into the overall health system, health financing priorities, and policies. Instead of continuing to invest in parallel programs, a comprehensive and functional structure for continuity, one that will be robust enough to withstand decreasing external funds or donor exits, should be developed at the national and sub-national levels as a matter of urgency.
Shalom Obi is a Research Fellow at the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria, with focus on health policy research and community health systems.
Obinna Onwujekwe is a Professor of Health Economics, Systems and Policies at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus. He is the Chief Editor of the African Journal of Health Economics, and the Coordinator of the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria. He also coordinates the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) for Health Systems, Nigeria Center.
Acknowledgement: We thank Dr Godstime Eigbiremolen for the review of the blog

Policy Dialogue between African Health Observatory and stakeholders in Nigeria’s Health Financing

Central to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is to improve service coverage, financial access, and financial protection for health service users. Concerned about Nigeria’s slow pace toward UHC, the Nigerian National Centre (NC) of the African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) organized a policy dialogue (PD) that brought together key members of the National Healthcare Financing (HCF) and equity Technical Working Group (TWG) (HCF-TWG) and FMOH to discuss the current policy issues on health financing (interest on health financing governance and domestic resource mobilization (DRM)), with a focus on UHC. The dialogue was to brainstorm about the future directions in terms of strategic activities or actions that will be taken to make a change in the context of strengthening the Nigerian health system and achieving UHC. The dialogue explored how to specifically enhance efforts towards achieving UHC in Nigeria through domestic funding lenses and improved health financing governance.

The participant for the dialogue comprised 17 people drawn from the NC (HPRG) and the National HCF-TWG: FMoH (5), International/Development partners (4), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) (2), NC (5), and Academia (1).

Click here to download the comprehensive report

Photo representation of participants


COVID-19 containment and coordination strategies in Nigeria and lessons from four other African countries

COVID-19 pandemic will forever remain a major disruption of global activities and lifestyles. However, conversations have rapidly shifted from the dreadedness of the pandemic to the actions and inactions of systems in combating its spread and ameliorating its devastating effects. The pandemic appears to have affected different locations differently, of which there are clinical, public health, economic and social explanations to such dynamics. While it looks as though Africa has one of the least occurrences of fatalities arising from COVID-19, it is never in doubt that the continent has had its fair share of the effects of the pandemic, and some have indeed been extreme. Therefore, to encourage better health emergency responses, it is needful to reflect. The continent needs to look inward to understand its strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and prospects, for the purpose of improving its public health space and better positioned to challenge health emergencies, going forward.

Inspired by the African Health Observatory – Platform on Health Systems and Policies (AHOP), COVID-19 containment and coordination strategies across five African countries, including Nigeria, were evaluated. As quoted from an AHOP document: “[…] Threats of new variants loom and low vaccination coverage raises questions on the future of the response to COVID-19. Prevention remains the key strategy in most sub-Saharan countries. Below, five National Centres (NCs) from the African Health Observatory Platform on Health Systems and Policies (AHOP), based in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal, reflect on lessons to be learnt from their coordination and containment responses in the initial phases. They construct timelines to highlight the policies and challenges associated with introducing a range of public health containment measures and discuss the extent to which these measures continue to be valuable given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.”

To read the report on COVID-19 coordination strategies across the five African countries, kindly click here to download

And to read the report on COVID-19 containment strategies across the five African countries as well, kindly click here to download

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Understanding the complementary relationships and roles of Integrated African Health Observatory (iAHO) and African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP)

The Ministerial Conference on Research for Health in the African Region, held in Algiers from 23 to 26 June 2008, adopted the Algiers Declaration renewing the commitment of Member States to strengthen national health research, information systems and knowledge management systems to improve health in the African Region. The Algiers Declaration offers a framework to narrow the knowledge gap and thereby improve knowledge generation and the use of knowledge to inform policies, strategies, and actions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) started work on health observatories in the African region in 2010 when it established the African Health Observatory (AHO).1 This followed the 2009 recommendation of the Regional Committee for Africa (AFR/RC59/5).2 In November 2012, during the sixty-second session of the Regional Committee for Africa (RC62) held in Luanda, health ministers of the African Region agreed to establish national health observatories in their respective countries and adopted the resolution entitled “The African Health Observatory: an opportunity to strengthen health information systems through national health observatories.” With the support of the AHO, several countries are developing their national health observatories (NHOs) to strengthen their national health information systems and promote the use of data for better action.

AHO is the regional observatory based and managed by WHO/AFRO. It brings together all the key information (Data – Analytics – Knowledge) on the WHO African region and on the 47 member states. It is a one-stop shop for standardized and validated information at both national and international levels with clear information on data sources. The NHOs are national declinations of the AHO and strengthen the national health information system. They thus contribute to reducing fragmentation and making key information available in a one-stop shop at national and sub-national levels. The institutional anchorage varies from country to country, but in the region, there are three groups: (i) integrated as a structure in the Information System/Planning Directorate of the Ministry of Health, (ii) integrated as a unit attached to the General Secretariat or the Minister’s Office, or (iii) integrated as a fully-fledged structure attached to the Prime Ministry.

Click here to download the full document