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Stakeholders chart path to boost workers’ capacity in health sector


Lagos State's Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, PHOTO: LASG

Lagos State’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, PHOTO: LASG

Apparently worried by the problem of inadequate workforce in the health sector, concerned stakeholders have called for holistic effort to improve capacity and access to services nationwide.

Specifically, the stakeholders canvassed for the deployment of technology, training programmes, health insurance and adequate funding to improve the health status of Nigerians.

The experts, who spoke at PharmAccess strategy day on Nigeria, organised by PharmAccess Foundation, were unanimous that enormous opportunities abound in the sector and were waiting to be explored.

One of the opportunities is in the area of technology, with innovations in e-health and mobile-health to enhance access and quality delivery.

Chief Operating Officer of Smarthealth/Interswitch, Tunji Ashiru, said with proper application of organised knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems, the problem of affordable and access to care would be significantly addressed.

Ashiru noted that the use of mobile phone that is more or less common to all Nigerians now enables a medium for all to enroll and pay for health services, if the providers would full tap into it.

Chief Medical Director of New Era Hospitals, Dr. Nana Okwelum, observed that the problem of access to health is more predominant in rural areas where over 60 per cent of the country’s population resides.

Okwelum said that the pervading poverty among the rural dwellers is huge with many unable to pay and therefore warrants the need to make health insurance and universal coverage work.

Apparently in agreement with the need for technology and insurance, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said they must be supported by proper financing, capacity building and health reforms.

According to Idris, stakeholders need to pressure the government to fund healthcare and ensure the sector is reformed.

He observed that the major problem lies with health workers and other health providers, stressing that many lacked the modern capacity to function effectively using available technology.

His words: “Many of them are not computer literate. This was disturbing as it did not allow for improvement in the use technology in the hospitals,” he said.

Commissioner for Health in Ogun State, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, also identified poor funding as the primary issue affecting the growth of the sector.

Ipaye advised the Federal Government to invest in the sector, adding that “nobody can give what he does not have”.

He said that the current 3.7 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to healthcare was poor, where other less endowed countries like Rwanda were doing 11 per cent.

Ipaye added that Nigeria’s per capita income of $207 has bearing on the current state of health, and “mobile-health will not come at that amount”.

Besides funding, he said further that the current training health workers are getting is such that does not prepare them for the leadership position they are occupying, hence the labour crisis that is endemic in the system.

The commissioner said that it was high time the Federal Government, the private sector and other concerned stakeholders had launched a reform to reposition the industry .

Country Director, PharmAccess Foundation Nigeria, Njide Ndili said her organisation was interested in increasing access to inclusive quality health care for low income communities in Nigeria.

Ndili said lack of access to inclusive quality health care is one of the primary challenges facing Nigeria.

This, she said, was in spite of the efforts being undertaken by stakeholders in the industry.

She said the programme was organised to facilitate discuss among key players to get response from stakeholders, long standing partners, new and potential partners.

The programme, she said, would enable the company find a way forward to advance access to quality healthcare to low-income communities.

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