By Chioma Obinna
Former Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Prof Akin Osibogun, has called for mandatory health insurance scheme for all Nigerians that would help balance payment for personal health services.
Making the call in his book titled: “My Life, My Medicine: A Chief Medical Director’s Story”, Osibogun said personal health issues can be financed through a mix of mechanisms including out of pocket payment and some level of government subsidy as an investment into economic productivity and growth as well as social cohesion and solidarity.
Osibogun who is also a Consultant Public Health Physician and Epidemiologist in his 295-page autobiography disagreed with the belief that there are communities that are too poor to pay premium for health insurance but pointed out that some communities have failed to recognise and meaningfully use their God -given assets.
Procurement ofhealth goods
“If Israel could grow food on desert land, what excuse do we have to be hungry when we have plenty of Arable land? Why should there be so much unemployment when there is a lot of work to be done? Millions of houses are yet to be built, roads to be constructed, children to be taught and yet we talk about unemployment. I think our economists and politicians have to be sent back to school!”
He pointed out that government at all levels must take full responsibilities for the procurement of certain health goods and services that are in the public interest. Health issues, problems and diseases that if left to individual prevarication, can escalate into community problems of unmanageable size are best financed from the common purse.
The erstwhile LUTH Chief Medical Director stressed that there is need for government to urgently attend to the question of defining a sustainable financing mechanism that incorporate not just the government the communities, families and individuals. Health insurance scheme is a model that can guarantee access to citizens and protect them against catastrophic expenditure for health. Once the funds are pooled then it will guarantee payment of services rendered and will help us improve on the quality of service for Nigerians.
Continuing, he said the book was written to serve as a resource material for managers in the health sector and students of health management who intend to learn from the experience of others. “There is no need to reinvent the wheel where there are already documented methods, strategies and systems that work or where pitfalls have been identified, others can avoid them,” he noted.
Recounting some of his milestones as CMD of LUTH, he said under his administration, the hospital started renal transplantation, open heart surgery, laparoscopic surgery and endoscopic surgery which were reasons why most Nigerians travel abroad for. He said by providing these services in Nigeria they have contributed their quota to ensuring that Nigerians can get those services in-country as well as saved the country a lot of foreign exchange.
The Book Reviewer, Dr. Fassy Adetokunboh Yusuf described it as a well ‘baked cake’ for society consumption. For him, it is a story of an intelligent, calm, focused, dynamic and highly exposed Nigerian who has distinguished himself wherever he has found himself.
According to Yusuf, the author has distinguished himself in all ramifications. He however recommended the autobiography as a veritable material for leaders of organisations especially those in the medical profession/health care delivery, and others in pursuit of scholarship and those willing to know the politics and dynamics of organisations.