By CHIOMA OBINNA
ADEQUATE investment in health and human capital are major strategies required to improve the country’s poor health indices.
Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Prof. Akin Osibogun, and the Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye gave the assertion in Lagos last week, calling for a suitable environment that encourages health financing.
In his submission at a training workshop tagged: “Health Reporting” organised by LUTH, Oshibogun said community involvement was essential for sustainable health development in Lagos with about 18 million people, who required no less than six teaching hospitals.
In a lecture entitled: “Health Sector Financing for Sustainable Development in Nigeria”, he said the linkage between health and development was no longer in doubt, and that there was the need to adequately equip the health sector in terms of manpower, infrastructure, financing and facilities.
Noting that development and provision of health should be seen as a shared responsibility, he urged private organisations, individuals and families to play a role in ensuring an improved health care delivery in the country.
“Even though the Nigerian economy could not be compared to that of developed countries, funding of the Nigerian health sector was still low.
“In the US for instance, the government spends $7000 per capita on its health sector while Nigeria spends less than $20 per capita on its health sector annually,” he said.
He said there were large crowds at public tertiary hospitals because in Nigeria, the physician to patient ratio still remains 1:4000.
“Some patients think since it’s a public hospital, they do not have to pay anything and therefore when they are asked to pay a little sum, they refuse and blame it entirely on government.”
Osibogun, who spoke extensively on various options that could guarantee a balanced mix in financing for sustainable health development in the country, noted that an effective health insurance would protect members against catastrophic expenditure for health.
While calling for a compulsory health insurance for all, he urged Nigerians to also have a better attitude towards saving part of their income for health.
Earlier in his lecture, Akinfeleye who stated that there was no reason women should die while giving birth, regretted that the reverse is the situation in Nigeria.
He called for massive investment in human capital noted that a healthy population is better than a weak population.
Warning that a country’s population should not be based on figures but on quality of life of that population, he called for policies that would help promote preventive medicine in the country.
He tasked Nigerian health reporters to dwell more on issues that promote warning signals of an illness, rather than dwell on curative measures.
Akinfeleye further opined that if the current health budget is followed holistically, Nigeria will be moving a step forward in achieving better health for its citizenry.
Acknowledging that health reporting was not attractive as politics, corruption among others, he advised health reporters to zero in on issues that deal with preventive medicine than curative medicine because prevention is better than cure.