NESG Holds Pre NES29 Summit Webinar on improving the policy environment around public-private partnership in Nigeria's Healthcare system

Posted Tue, Oct 3, 2023 10:16 AM

NESG Holds Pre NES29 Summit Webinar on improving the policy environment around public-private partnership in Nigeria's Healthcare system

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been known to play a significant role in healthcare. PPPs allow the combination of public and private sector resources, expertise, and funding, leading to a more efficient allocation of resources, reduced waste, and improved service delivery. It allows the government to focus on policy-making, regulation, and strategic planning while the private sector handles day-to-day operations. In addition, private sector involvement often brings innovation, management expertise, and specialised skills that can enhance healthcare services (World Bank, 2019). As a result, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) held a webinar on Thursday, September 28th, 2023, with the theme "PPP for Healthcare: Getting the Policy Environment Right."

In his keynote address, the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr Kola Owodunni, stated that Nigeria as a nation still has a lot to do in terms of providing quality healthcare for its citizens. He noted that quality healthcare is not a luxury but a human right, especially for a nation vying for sustainable economic transformation and social inclusion. Public-private partnerships are vital in realising this vision, as they are collaborations and bridges between public goals and private expertise. "PPPs have demonstrated globally their potential to optimise resource allocation, minimise waste and augment service delivery. They enable the government to focus on policymaking, regulation and strategic planning, while the private sector brings innovation, managerial excellence and specialised skills.

He noted that PPPs help improve healthcare services, reduce absenteeism and stimulate economic growth by creating job opportunities in construction, operations and maintenance, with the ripple effects felt throughout the economy. He reiterated that successful PPPs help reduce health disparities by extending quality health services to underserved populations, noting that improved healthcare leads to better quality of life outcomes, contributes to higher educational attainment, reduced poverty rates and an overall improved quality of life. He further stated that PPPs can help attract medical tourism both from within Nigerian borders and from other neighbouring countries, with the influx of foreign currencies helping to significantly boost local economies through hospitality services and stimulate growth in related sectors.

While setting the context for the panel discussions, Thematic Lead, Health as a Business TG, NESG HPC Dr Ola Brown said according to the Nigerian Demographic Health Survey (NDHS, 2018), 1 in 8 Nigerian children don't get to reach the age of five, and that infant deaths stand at 67 for every 1000 births. She noted that despite being the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria generates less taxes than its peers, which indicates the nation's economic challenges and makes it difficult for the country to finance healthcare. Dr Brown noted that the private sector, through PPPs, can help solve some of Nigeria's economic challenges by easing the financial burden on the government and presenting attractive opportunities for investors through an offer of high returns and benefits across a diverse range of sectors. 

In her presentation on PPP Analysis, HPC member Dr. Noimot Balogun said that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPE) are saddled with regulating PPPs and procurement at the federal level and that Lagos, Rivers, Cross River and Ekiti currently have laws regulating PPPs. She noted that some barriers to PPP implementation include misaligned goals and incentives, limited understanding of the scope of the alliance, and unstable policies driven by non-continuity due to political and power dynamics.

During the panel discussion, the Director of the Public Private Partnership Resource Department of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Dr Jobson Oseodion Ewalefoh, who was represented by the head of Energy and Urban Infrastructure PPP, at the ICRC, Mr Ahmed Abdulrazaq, said that PPPs are complex and are not done in isolation. He said the legal framework is the most important consideration when embarking on a PPP because it provides the law for the public and private sectors vested within the ICRC. He noted that economic indicators for investments, inflation rates, interest rates for loans, consumer spending and unemployment rate must be considered before embarking on a PPP arrangement. 

Speaking in the same vein, Executive Vice Chairman of Bridge Clinic Fertility Centre, Dr Richardson Ajayi, said that there are PPP arrangements that are still in place more than a decade since they started and that Bridge Clinic runs the Institute of Facility Medicine at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital through a PPP arrangement for over ten years and more than 20 PPP arrangements are running at the Hospital.

The Country Director of PharmAccess Foundation, Dr Njide Ndili, stated that a lot of state governments still need to domesticate the ICRC and PPP act and, as such, can't handle PPPs. She emphasised the need to encourage states to domesticate the PPP policy so that states will not be left behind and that the regulatory framework across the country makes it easy for the private sector to invest in the health sector.

The 29th Nigerian Economic Summit, with the theme 'Pathways for Sustainable Economic Transformation and Inclusion', is scheduled to hold on the 23rd and 24th of October, 2023, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja. In light of the urgency of translating economic growth into improved and sustainable living standards for all citizens, this year's summit theme hints at Nigeria's potential for sustainable development, leveraging innovative policies, robust institutions, strategic infrastructural investments, and human capital development.

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