By Sola Ogundipe
FOLLOWING the empowerment ofÂ erstwhile Vice President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President, a Nigerian medical practitioner based in the United States of America has enjoined all Nigerians toÂ Â put heads together with the view to develop strategies that would promote the overall health and well-being of the entire populace.
Making the call while on a short visit to Nigeria from his New York base in the USA, Dr. Francis Okhiria, anÂ experienced hospital administrator and Deputy Executive Director/ Chief Operating Officer in New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, decried the dwindling fortunes of the Nigerian health sector – laying blame squarely at the doorstep of past administrations in the country.
Okhiria who wields extensive clinical and administrative experience in the American public health care industryÂ opined thatÂ before there could be assure judicious use of a health care system reshaped to put patients first.
The government is required to forge partnerships among health professionals, business, labour and insurers, the educational system and, above all, the Nigerian public.
â€œThe problem facing Nigeria health care industry is surmountable. First there must be acceptance of responsibility. The Nigerian government has a responsibility to provide affordable, high quality health care for all Nigerians and it must play a leading role in developing a national health care system that puts Nigerians first and foremost.â€
Okhiria noted that even asÂ governmentis seeking to forge a national consensus on strategies for promoting the health and well-being of all Nigerians, it must co-opt the views and expertise of the nationsâ€™s health care professionals worldwide.
â€œTo avoid failure,Â there should be no square peg in a round hole. Focus should be on affordable access to needed health care by all citizens regardless of their socio-economic status, including preventive services.
â€œThe dilemma is that we lack accountability. Funds appropriated for programmes are not spent for the purpose earmarked and no one is questioned why there is no outcome.
â€œThere is a need to establish a continuum of care between the various levels of care â€“ primary, secondary and tertiary. The area of focus should be accessibility to health care, clinical innovation and acquiring modern technologies.â€