Revitalising Nigerian Health Care Systems

Functional healthcare systems are important for countries to deliver qualitative service to their citizens.

This is why some developed countries put social protection networks in place to effectively carry out this all important responsibility.

In Nigeria successive administrations have embarked on various reforms to mitigate challenges facing the health sector.

Such reforms include the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, National Immunisation Coverage, Midwives Service Scheme, among others.

As laudable as these schemes are, some of them have not been effective while others have only achieved their aims partially due to corruption, poor welfare packages, poor implementation, unstable economy, inhumane attitude of some health workers and inadequate funding.

This situation inadvertently affects people resulting in lack of access to qualitative health care services, especially by those at the lowest rung of the economy.

When the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, was launched in 2005, the scheme brought respite to many Nigerians putting an end to unnecessary out of pocket expenditure.

It is sad to note that the NHIS covers less than ten percent of the Nigerian population leaving many vulnerable and at the mercy of healthcare services that are not affordable.

The Primary Health Care Systems were created to meet the needs of the people at the grassroots, and the indigents which constitute seventy percent of the country.

Sadly, these centres lack basic amenities, drugs and consumables which further makes it impossible for them to meet their mandate.

Hence, people living in rural communities have to travel long distances to city centres to access health care services even for minor ailments like malaria.

Apart from Public Health Centres, many public health institutions across the country have become a shadow of themselves due to obsolete equipment, poor infrastructure, deficient manpower and unmanageable patient load.

Not too long ago, there were hues and cries over lack of essential consumables and drugs at the state house clinic, Abuja, despite huge budgetary allocations.

It is no wonder then, that the country loses over four hundred billion naira to medical tourism annually and this will likely continue if nothing urgent is done to stem the trend.

Also, World Health Organisation’s report showed that Nigeria has one of the largest stocks of human resources for health in Africa, but the number of nurses, midwives and doctors serving the country’s populace are still too low to deliver essential health services effectively because of brain drain.

To revitalise the health sector it is imperative to increase budgetary allocations of the health sector to 15 percent, which is being advocated by stakeholders.

The secondary and tertiary institutions of health in cities are bursting at the seams, consequently there is need to encourage doctors and other health personnel to serve in the rural areas.

To prevent brain drain and migration of human resources, there should be an upgrade of facilities and improved working conditions for health personnel.

Government should also look into local production of pharmaceuticals by creating enabling environment for investors and check importation of adulterated drugs into the country.

Strengthening of Primary Health Care facilities across the country is also needful to reduce the burden on secondary and tertiary health institutions.

Access to geriatric care should be scaled up at all levels of healthcare delivery as the population of the elderly in Nigeria is on the increase.

Health is wealth therefore it is imperative that the government strive to promote the well being of citizens in the country in line with goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, of the United Nations which seeks to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

Anthonia Akanji

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