During his visit, Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Bill Gate, said Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth, with worst maternal mortality rate ahead of Sierra Leone, Central Africa Republic and Chad.
The statement according to stakeholders is worrisome for the world’s most populous black nation and something must be done to correct the situation.
The Malaria Society of Nigeria (M.S.N.), from it’s own study said Nigeria has the highest number of malaria death in the world, that alone is scary.
The Malaria Society of Nigeria (M.S.N.)’s President, Dr John Babajide Puddicombe said about 100 million malaria cases and about 300 thousand death are recorded annually.
That calls for concern as Nigerians seems to be used to having malaria and may find it difficult to believe malaria can cure. One then wonders what can be done to fight prevailing diseases like malaria.
According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) as at today Nigeria has the highest cancer death rate in Africa. Cancer leads over 72 thousand death per annum in the country. Does that sound like a death sentence? This is a point out of the fact that health care services must be improved upon.
Well, by the end of this year, the federal government would have spent 8.612 trillion naira proposed by the presidency if approved by the national assembly with 2.51 trillion naira of 4.55% allocated to the health sector. This is the far cry from the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) recommended 13% or 15% declared by the African Union (A.U.) in 2001 in Abuja which Nigeria is a signatory.
Health experts have decried budgetary allocation to the sector over the years which they said is a major factor bedeviling the health sector.
• How can the pregnant woman on the street be assured of safe delivery?
• Can the medical experts be blamed for the shortcomings in the health sector?
• How can Nigeria be moved closer to the likes of Australia, Canada, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway and the United Kingdom which are the countries with the top 11 health care systems in the world?
Major Challenges Bedeviling the Health Sector
Bad Behavior and Lifestyle:
The Commissioner for health, Cross Rivers State, Dr. Inyang Asibong, let this out on raypower’s current affairs programme, “Factfile”. Dr. Dr. Inyang Asibong emphasized that the important major factor is lifestyle.
“…Hypertension and diabetes are lifestyle diseases and are now here with us. They are actually endemic with us. But a few decades ago, these illnesses were lower than now. It is because of what we eat, especially; our diet and lack of exercise…
“And also, more automobile on the road, smoky exhaust pipe, etc. The culture is more tolerant to smoking and drinking alcohol. It is almost a norm to smoke and drink. These are really dangerous to the health.”, She said.
Culture and Inaccess To Good Health Care Services:
The Commissioner also confirmed that people in the rural areas abandon health care centres due to their culture. Some women have to get consent of their husband before they could go in to the health care centres.
“For example, people could go to the antenatal care centres but about 70% of them do not deliver there. They prefer to go to the traditional birth attendants (TBAs).” She said.
Poor Health Care Facilities :
Dr. Inyang Asibong called on government at all levels to upgrade facilities and health care centres to improve in services delivery.
“In almost all the illnesses, Nigeria always top the chart, may be because of our population and lack of enabling environment.
“First of all, the facilities should be upgraded, equipments should be functional and also proper training of staff should be done. Employment of more staff is very important and also advocacy and sensitization in our rural communities.” She added.
Inadequate Human Resource for Health:
Many health workers (specialists) prefer to stay in the town because the rural communities are not friendly to them, maybe in terms of their children’ schooling. The commissioner said the government is trying to avoid task-shifting and tasks-sharing.
“So that we won’t have community health workers performing the task of doctors. They should not go to that facility because the doctors are not there.” She concluded.
Financial Burden of Citizens :
Also speaking on the program is the former National President of the National Health Care Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Onyebueze John Ugochukwu urged the federal government to implement the national health act to reduce the financial burden of citizens in the quest to see quality health care.
Dr. Ugochukwu stressed that the passage of the national health act remains the best option for universal health coverage for Nigerians.
“….unfortunately this will continue until will change our complete attitudes to health in this country, starting from the leadership. We are expecting the full implementation of the national health act that was passed as far back as 2014. That would have guaranteed full national health coverage for the citizens of this country. If the national health care is covered by insurance, the implication is that people would not be naive to seek health services.” He said.
He identified under-funding as a major challenge bedeviling the health sectors.
“There’s tactically gross under-funding of the health sector…. Let’s go back to the 2018 budget and ensure that the health sector is adequately funded as recommended by the World Health Organisation (W.H.O).” Dr Ugochukwu concluded.
We hope Nigeria’s health sector would get better. Kudos to the Cross River State’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong and the former National President of the National Health Care Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Onyebueze John Ugochukwu.
Credit: Abiola Aberuagba @ Raypower Radio Network 100.5 FM
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