Thursday, 28th September 2023

Action Aid urges Buhari to declare state of emergency in health sector

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
27 January 2023   |   5:01 am
The Country Director of the Action Aid Nigeria, Ene Obi, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the Nigerian health sector Speaking at a Town Hall Meeting organised by the Health Sector Reform Coalition ...

ActionAid Country Director, Ene Obi

• Urges Mr. President to build state-of-the-art medical centre before leaving office in May 2023

The Country Director of Action Aid Nigeria, Ene Obi, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the Nigerian health sector Speaking at a Town Hall Meeting organised by the Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC) to commemorate the Universal Health Coverage Day, last week, in Abuja, Obi who decried the poor state of General Hospitals across the country, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, before he leaves office, build a world-class, state-of -the-art medical centre, where he can also be treated.

Obi lamented that the political leaders in the country are seeking medical treatment abroad when the country has one of the best doctors in the world. She said: “We need to call on politicians to stop going abroad for medical care because they can bring medical care to Nigeria. We are having general hospitals that are dilapidated and outdated. We are going into elections; Nigerians have to engage the leaders. Nigerian government should pay attention to health. They are milking the Nigerian economy and they will not be forgiven because they are killing people, they need to know that they will be accountable before God. The leaders have left Nigerian women behind because we have Nigerian women dying on maternity death roll like no other place in the world. Nigeria is among the first five countries with the highest maternal mortality in the world. The National Hospital was built for women and children but the subsequent governments have not deemed it necessary to build hospitals in Abuja. You have the money and the wherewithal. You have the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), many of our doctors are flying out but we still have the capacity to develop no capacity. If you cannot consume your workforce, you export them.”

Obi observed that health insurance is very critical to attaining the Universal Health Coverage but lamented that when one is using insurance in Nigeria, it is like a punishment. She urged the National Insurance Authority (NHIA) to call the health facilities to order.

Chairperson of the Health Reform Coalition, Mrs. Chika Offor, said the health system is not working and many Nigerians are dying and people have lost confidence in the health system.

Offor said the meeting was organised to decide the way forward for the health sector and how health services can be made affordable and accessible to all Nigerians irrespective of their financial status.

Offor expressed concern over the slow progress made by Nigeria towards the realisation of the UHC due to the sub-optimal implementation of the extant relevant laws, policies, guidelines and inadequate political will that translates to gross underfunding of the health sector at all levels, poor leadership and coordination of the various segments and tiers of the public health sector and weak voices of the citizens in demanding better health and accountability.

She said: “Realising that the causes of the poor health outcomes including high disease burden and mortality rates have a direct correlation with the quality of political leadership at cognizant of the reality that health is wealth, security and development without which no sector thrives and delivers expected outcomes; recognising the efforts through enactments, executive interventions, civil society reawakening and mobilisation in the civil space geared towards improving health outcomes in the country appear to be yielding only modest recordable improvements.”

Offor said it is imperative to get both political leaders and the citizens to re-prioritise health by placing it rightly at the front burner of nation’s development in order to achieve UHC in Nigeria, adding that Nigeria may not achieve the UHC target goals by 2030, only eight years away with its current pace.

According to her, “The Basic Health Care Provision Fund is a catalytic fund that supports health insurance. However, the BHCPF caters for one primary health care centre per ward and this is not enough, all hands must be on deck to ensure that health insurance work in Nigeria, if not, people will continue to die.”

Executive Secretary of the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria, Dr. Celestine Okorie, said that the meeting was organised to find out the agenda of the various political parties for the health sector, adding that Nigeria has a poor health indices and Nigerian doctors are leaving the country for greener pastures. He stressed the need to ensure that political leaders are held accountable for their campaign promises.