Nigeria’s New Government and Public Financing for Universal Health Coverage

The new government led by President Muhammadu Buhari can re-energise the drive towards achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in Nigeria. A recent review of health-system financing for UHC in Nigeria shows high out-of-pocket expenses for health care, a very low budget for health at all levels of government, and poor health insurance penetration. The recently signed National Health Act is a viable framework, the implementation of which can fast-track progress towards UHC. Counterpart funding from state and local governments is at the core of the National Health Act implementation, and resource mobilisation and accountability are key factors for successful implementation of the National Health Act. The new government should creatively and aggressively explore innovative domestic financing. Tax avoidance and inefficient tax collection are major roadblocks that the new government should tackle to improve domestic revenue generation. Sin taxes could be another means of increasing public funding for health.