In his bid to make the government at levels understand the important contributions of a healthy citizenry to the attainment of enviable Gross Domestic Product, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has noted that globally, the health sector is an important driver of economic growth.
He said studies suggest that there is a correlation between improved health and economic growth, with improvement in health outcomes typically preceding any meaningful gains in economic growth.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 60th National Council on Health meeting in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Thursday, the minister said investments in the health sector would positively impact on the economic growth of the nation; decrying the weak macro fiscal stance occasioned by low commodity prices over the last few years, which he said led to a contraction of the economy.
“To restore and improve on the nation’s economic status, this administration has put together a four-year recovery plan with the broad objectives of restoring growth, investing in our people and building a globally competitive economy.
“This is why we deemed it very important to tag the theme of this year’s NCH as, “Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Health Sector: Matters Arising,” the minister said.
While commending the host, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, for making health one of the five-point agenda of his administration and prioritising the sector since he assumed office, Adewole noted that Nigeria lags behind in indicators for health, education, nutrition and employment because economic growth has been inequitable, with wealth concentrated in very few hands.
“To grow and develop the economy sustainably, it is imperative that we must invest in the Nigerian people.
“This means improving access to good and affordable healthcare and education, fostering social inclusion, promoting job creation and protecting the environment.
“The aim is to enhance opportunities for all Nigerians irrespective of gender, age, socio-economic status and physical ability,” the minister argued.
He disclosed that the nation had made progress in the development of the second National Strategic Health Development Plan, lasting between 2017 and 2021.
“We collectively validated the well-articulated national framework in May 2017 and that marked the end of the first stage of the process.
“We are currently in the second stage and making efforts to conclude it by using the framework to develop specific plans for Federal and states.
“We also need to double our efforts and conclude the development of the entire plan before the end of this year.
“I therefore want to urge all honourable commissioners to commit themselves and ensure the completion of their state plans and submit them in two weeks,” the minister counselled.