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Dear President Buhari

By Dr. Adesiyan Olufunmibi
17 July 2016   |   2:46 am
I am equally hopeful that if the robust and cost- efficient National Health Agenda the two Health ministers have been promoting which is to deliver basic health care on a sustained basis to about 100 million Nigerians in the next
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole

Sir: I see a big window of opportunity for your government to make a lot of difference in rebuilding the collapsed health care system of this country, especially now with the introduction of Primary Health Care Revitalisation Programme by your Health Minister. 70% of the disease burden in Nigeria falls under the purview of primary health care and what is needed is sustained commitment to infrastructural development in that stratum of the health sector.

Sir, if you give primary health care the attention it deserves, and you put up the about 10,000 functional primary health care centres across the country as the Health Minister has promised on your behalf at different fora, all our health care indices, principal among, which are Maternal Mortality Rate and Infant and Under-five Mortality rates would drastically improve and you will go down in history as the President who made that happen. On the other hand you would have successfully improved the health status and quality of life of millions of Nigerians.

I am equally hopeful that if the robust and cost- efficient National Health Agenda the two Health ministers have been promoting which is to deliver basic health care on a sustained basis to about 100 million Nigerians in the next

2 years is given prompt presidential assent and direct political support from your esteemed office, Nigerians would sing a new song before 2019.

Of vital importance also is the rising prevalence of cancer in the country. Seeking cancer treatment abroad is as a matter of fact, one of the pointed reasons for medical tourism, which costs Nigeria about 1.5 to 2 Billion U.S Dollars annually. My father is 74, just less than a year older than you. He had a prostate cancer screening lately and it was negative. He came clean.

Countless Nigerians are not that lucky. It always happens that when cancer strikes, there is hardly anywhere to turn to for help. Only the National Hospital Abuja and another private hospital have functional linear accelerators for Radiotherapy (a treatment modality for cancer) and those machines are suffering from extreme overuse. We are a country of between 160-170 Million people. This is worrisome.

Regarding Medical tourism, I strongly believe we can drastically reduce this disturbing trend, which is constantly removing heavy amount of forex from our already contracting economy. We need home-grown solutions to all our medical challenges.

It is, therefore, highly imperative that your government drive public-private partnership to foster the building and operation of highly sophisticated and efficient Medical infrastructure across the country.

I also think Prof Isaac Adewole, your Health Minister who has demonstrated efficiency and positive connect with various unions in the medical sector should be made to utilize his own experience in positive activism to work out an amicable solution to recurring crises in the health care delivery system. A reformed health sector would benefit everyone, and the agitations for increased remuneration would be automatically taken care of if we begin to operate by different sets of rules in the sector.

The current policy direction of the Health Ministry is very reassuring

• Dr. Adesiyan Olufunmibi (General Practitioner), Lagos.