By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari said, yesterday, that turning around the health sector in the country can reduce dependence on foreign countries for medical treatment.
The president, who stated this at the commissioning ceremony of Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital, Daura, Katsina State, also said that health services in the rural areas deserved more attention.
He said the Federal Government would redoubled efforts to improve health facilities, equipment and services in the country, listing people living in rural areas as top priority for better health services.
Buhari said the Federal Government had, in the last four years, invested resources in the health sector, with increased budgetary allocation from N259 billion in 2015 to over N340 billion in 2018.
The president said: “Accordingly, significant strides have been made on life expectancy that would reduce some of the killer diseases associated with child and maternal mortality to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by the year 2030, as planned in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.
“Despite this, more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and many persistent and emerging health issues in our society,” he said.
President Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said dependence on foreign countries for medical treatment could be reduced by turning around the health sector in the country.
“To achieve this, we must now redouble efforts to focus on providing more efficient funding of the health sector, improve sanitation and hygiene, and increase access to medicare in the rural areas in order to save lives of millions of Nigerians.
“There is, therefore, no more auspicious time to commission this Reference Hospital than now,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar, said the 60-bed capacity hospital had a total of nine medical consultants, as well as 61 general medical practitioners and dentists.
“These developments have significantly enhanced the capacity of the medical services branch to provide quality healthcare to our personnel,” he said.
The air chief also noted that the hospital had ultra-modern operating theatres, an intensive care unit, medical laboratory, eye and dental clinics and a physiotherapy department.