By Sola Ogundipe
Nigeria has made noticeable progress in the health industry since independence. We are not there yet and there is still a lot to do, but we have certainly progressed and there have been landmark achievements.
Now we are 50, we are going to fast track strategies for development and build on the gains. There is improvement in health services. We now have a recognised healthcare system with better equity among the three levels of care unlike in 1960, when there was just one setup.
Today, we have a policy that reflects Federal character. Specialist care is more accessible bridging the gap between the tiers of care and there are designated cadres of specialists with facilities for training them in Nigeria There is in-built capacity for provision of array of services.
Each cadre of the professionals has its own regulatory body making for better auditing, hence regulation of medical practice is better among the practitioners.
We have in place a health insurance scheme that is in operation in the public sector. The States are gradually coming on board and in time the informal sector and the communities will also benefit.
Look at the Midwives services scheme which has so far produced 2,500 staff and being deployed to more than 300 centres to take care of maternal and child health. It’s all about a more integrated approach. We are learning to deal with non-communicable diseases because their diagnosis is much better and people are aware and better informed about their mode of prevention and management. We can do more and there is no doubt we are on the right track.
Our health indices not encouraging – Pharm. Felix Anieh, Chairman ACPN, Lagos branch
Health indices of the country are still poor and not encouraging. We are still talking about high maternal death rate and new diseases are springing up.
You can imagine cholera coming up now, killing a lot of people in the north something that is rarely heard of in other countries. So many people are going down with kidney, liver problems. Strike in every of sector.
To me, I don’t think we have made any head way as far as health is concern. If there is no harmony among the various healthcare practitioners there may not be improvement in the sector. Children and pregnant women are still dying of malaria related disease. In Ghana, they once celebrated their efforts to cut down mortality from malaria in children by half.
We need to go back to the roots – Dr. Sodepo Oluwajimi
In the past 50 years, we have had the good and the bad sides. When the medical training and practice started in Nigeria, the nation was at par with other countries in the world. At independence, doctors trained in Nigeria were of high standard compared to their counterparts anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, government took over funding for many of these programmes, and they began to diminish, starting from training.
Today, it is difficult to give quality training because there isn’t enough equipment. .There is no more specialist training overseas for doctors. We see our leaders travelling abroad for simple procedures. They go to India, which started from medical tourism. India discovered that people travel to the UK and America for simple treatments that could be handled locally in their country and decided to stop it. This is what Nigeria should also do.
The way forward is for Nigeria to go back to the roots by having a general health policy, which is completely lacking at the moment.
Govts done a lot, there is room for improvement
*Prof. Anthony Emeribe, Registrar/CEO, Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN)
Our health sector is far from where we ought to be. There is room for improvement but government has done quite a lot. One of the major problems in the health sector is a lot of wastage because of poor managerial skills , that is a major problem we are having.
So it does not matter how much resources put in the health industry, if the resources are not properly managed, you don’t get a profit.
But we have some milestones. Fifty years ago, we had only the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
Then you could get the best of care there. From that time we started improving on the number up to even after the civil war, our health care industry was still fantastic.
It was in the 80s we started having problems. We have achieved something by the way of number, growth and even quality.
The PEPFAR project is running, so is VAMED. There are a number of laboratories you will go to now and you will be happy.
Things were better at independence – Dr. Bigeria yi Kufo
Nigeria in the past 50 years in terms of health cannot be separated from the totality of Nigeria. The problem of the nation has been like a catastrophe. At independence the health sector was far better then than what it is now. Then, I’m aware we had top grade specialist hospitals recognised everywhere in the country but now there are difficulties in the health system
We should try and look for a way to wipe out corruption and do away with tribalism. Merit should be given a pride of place for us to move forward, that at least will help ginger people to work hard. The problem cannot be solved taking the health sector out of Nigeria as a whole. It requires collective solution to get the whole system work.
There is little to celebrate
*Pharm Azubike Okwor, PSN National President
There is very little or nothing to celebrate after 50 years in a country where health indices remain poor and one that toys with its pharmaceutical industry.
The Nigeria experience has been that of decaying social infrastructures, energy crisis, poor educational facilities, non- performing a health sector.
Nigerians should begin to ask their leaders pertinent questions. India and China have ready answers to what a nation can do with the pharmaceutical sector.
The industry has potentials to provide employment, foreign exchange and ensure that we are not going elsewhere for medication and others that we need in this nation.
We must begin to lay a foundation at 50 towards what we want to be at 51upwards.