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Fuel crisis fuels health challenges

By Sola Ogundipe

IN the aftermath of the nagging fuel crisis that has enveloped the nation, the cost of accessing healthcare has shot through the roof over the past few days.

The cost of running a hospital is now so high, it has in turn increased cost of treatment, drugs and general health care.

The prevailing scenario appears set to definitely worsen the already precarious healthcare delivery system.

Findings show that the average patient is currently worse off procuring health services today than at any other time in the recent past.

Coupled with the fact that majority of Nigerians are already confronted by a health system that is without safety valves for the informal sector prevailing, the challenges are as serious as ever.

Long queue of jerry cans at a petrol station as fuel scarcity bites harder, yesterday. Photo: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor.
Long queue of jerry cans at a petrol station as fuel scarcity bites harder, yesterday. Photo: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor.

To describe the multiplier effects of the current fuel crisis as “killing” would be an understatement. Except measures are taken, scores of healthcare providers may be forced to close shop. In fact quite a number have already shut down.

The fuel shortage is already affecting every section of the economy. In health care, it is those providing the services and those seeking the services that are suffering.

Everybody is suffering the effect. Healthcare facilities that have been running on permanent generator cannot cope and so the lives of patients have been on the line.

Many private hospitals that have been managing to operate with power generating plants in the past, now restrict the use of such generators to only emergencies.

One medical practitioner who pleaded anonymity stated: “Health care delivery depends on availability of power supply and we all know how inefficient public power supply is. You cannot run a hospital without power, so you need to have fuel because you are your own electicity provider.

“So if there is no fuel, cost of services that have to do with health care must go up. There were some consumables we purchased two weeks ago, when I sent my staff to replenish our stock on Saturday, the prices of the commodities had gone up 150-200 percent.
“And these are essential consumables, bought last week. Cost of everything from consultation to drugs have gone up astronomically,” he lamented.

The situation is just as dire in public hospitals. Experts say what this translates to is that the health indices may become worse, because people will no longer see the qualified medical practitioners and may resort to self medication because of high bills.

Human capacity will drop, illness will be on the increase, and poverty will set in and fuel the rise in disease.


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