…says doctors’ pursuit of greener pastures abroad not a loss to Nigeria
By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said the federal government has revitalised over 4,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across the country from 2015 to date.
He spoke at the flag-off a special medical mission to Jiwa Emirate in Abuja by Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) during the weekend.
He said, “Over the years, Nigeria’s healthcare system collapsed. But what we have done in the last four years is to revitalise the PHCs.
“We want to rebuild the PHC system. We committed to doing 10,000 of it. We have done over 4000 and we are still counting. FCT has done 225, Osun state is doing 332 and Kaduna about 250. I think we will really get to the 10,000 mark.
“What we are also doing is to fund the PHCs through a unique approach. We have a funding mechanism called the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) which is supported by the World Bank Foundation and the UK DFID.
“We want to send money straight from the federal government to the PHCs. There will be no signatory in any commercial bank apart for the health centres. Money will be made available quarterly to run the PHCs so that when it comes to purchasing commodities, rewarding the staff and making sure infrastructures remains okay, they will use that money for it.
“To kickstart it, we have $20m from World Bank, $2m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to start this. The federal government has released a first quarter allocation for this initiative.
“What we now want to rebuild the secondary healthcare system working with the state governments while the federal government concentrate on the tertiary healthcare system. We are hoping that by the next few years, the healthcare system in Nigeria will be back to shape.”
While commending ANPA for organising the free medical mission to the emirate, Adewole said the federal government does not believe the pursuit of greener pastures abroad by doctors of Nigerian origin is brain loss to the nation but brain gain.
“Working with ANPA, the federal government can build the human resources to make the PHCs functional. We would need you not only to do this medical outreach but also to exchange ideas, build capacities, supply new issues and ideas so that we can remain up-to-date,” the Minister added.
On her part, ANPA President, Dr. Shermaine Emelife, said the medical mission to the emirate is in keeping with the tradition of giving back to Nigeria where members of the association all started their medical careers.
“All of us always worry about healthcare in this country, so our goal is to provide year round care in this country. We have over 70 providers coming from US and some of our expatriates who came with us together with nurses and pharmacists to provide medical care,” she said.