HEWAN calls for urgent implementation of people-friendly policies
By Chioma Obinna
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, have been tasked to urgently and decisively take steps towards turning around the fortunes the health sector. even as their appointment was described as putting the “right peg in the right hole”.
Making the call in Lagos, the Executives of the Health Writers Association of Nigeria, HEWAN, a group of media professionals focused on the health and welfare of Nigerians, said nothing short of improved, affordable and accessible healthcare services are acceptable to Nigerians.
In a statement entitled: “The Dawn of A New Era in the Health Sector”, HEWAN charged the new ministers to immediately get doen to te task of changibng the fortunes of the sector for the better.
Lamenting that despite billions committed to the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS since 2005, millions of Nigerians still lack access to quality healthcare, the group called for a functional scheme that brings about Universal Health Coverage.
“Today, there is no gainsaying the fact that the task of a minister of health is a difficult one following the myriads of challenges bedeviling the sector which ranges from poor funding, huge disease burden, population explosion, poverty and high maternal mortality, among others.
Urging implementation of people-friendly policies that would drive progress in the primary level of care as well as proper funding of the PHCs.
“The disease burden will drop drastically if the challenges affecting primary healthcare are addressed properly. It is in the interest of the nation for the ministers to rejig our PHCs to make them viable. It is also pertinent for the ministers to continue with the revatilisation of the 10,000 PHCs project across the country,”
HEWAN also recommen-ded subsidised treatment for the elderly in the country as part of measures to address the healthcare needs of the elderly and retirees in the country, as old age comes with a lot of unavoidable associated ailments of which they cannot afford to manage on their own.
The Association noted the growing cases of medical negligence and misdiagnosis in the country, saying Nigeria is in dire need of effective medical laboratory services as many of the national laboratory facilities are moribund.
“For instance the Vaccine Laboratory in Lagos. There is a need to revitalise these facilities for better treatment outcomes as medical laboratory is bedrock of medical treatment,“ they added while calling for reduction of maternal and child mortality and morbidity.
“There is a need to investigate and prosecute cases of negligence in the hospitals to serve as a deterrent and build confidence in the health system”
The Association urged the Ministers to use their good offices to end the spate of inter-professional rivalry in the public health sector to the detriment of patients.
“There should be zero tolerance for discord in the sector. As a matter of necessity without prejudice, the age-long inter- and intra-professional rivalries, discord, acrimony, and crisis that have always thrown the Nigerian Health Sector into unending and perennial discord should be tackled. What this has brought to the health sector is retrogression and stagnation.
It has eroded patient-centred practices, especially openly demonstrated in public health Institutions. “This has gone unabated for years. Patients have suffered the consequences in no small way. This has greatly led to the loss of confidence in our Health Sector too.”
They called for increase in the budgetary allocation to the health sector to end brain drain. Quoting a 2017 poll by the Nigerian Polling Organisation, NOI, HEWAN said over 90 per cent of medical doctors in the country intend to seek employment abroad because of low job satisfaction, poor remuneration, etc.