By Gabriel Olawale
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi has warned that Nigeria may not achieve Universal Health Coverage, UHC if certain grey areas in the healthcare sector are not urgently addressed.
Abayomi who spoke at the 2019 Biennial Conference organised by the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, APHPN, Lagos State Chapter, said that lack of clear definition of roles and responsibility of the Federal, State and Local government in delivering quality healthcare to Nigerians through Primary Healthcare Centres may hinder efforts towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, UHC.
“People will say Local Governments have the mandate of delivering quality primary healthcare platform as embedded in the law. While I won’t disagree with that, we cannot disengage the role and responsibilities of the State and Federal government.
“There are grey areas in terms of responsibility when we talk of building, equipping, running and sustaining Primary Healthcare Structure. In Lagos State we have over 300 PHCs of which only 57 are considered flagships in which they have complimentary staff of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers that deliver services.
“The remaining over 200 PHCs are controlled by nurses while significant number of the Centres are abandoned and dilapidated.
Abayomi said that the situation is worse in some other States of the country. “This situation doesn’t speak well of the platform that want to deliver Universal Healthcare Coverage considering the formula of one PHC per ward. So if we really want to achieve UHC, the three tiers of government must come together and clearly outline what their responsibilities will be towards primary healthcare.
He however assured that the Lagos State government was committed to improving secondary and primary healthcare services.
Corroborating his views, First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu said that good health is essential to sustaining economic and social development as well as poverty reduction and access to needed health service is also crucial for maintaining and improving health.
The former Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Dr Jide Idris said that for Nigeria to make progress in UHC, the poorest of the poor in the communities must not be excluded.
“To achieve UHC, requires efficiency and accountability. It requires sufficiency in capacity of well trained, motivated workers to provide services. All these are major problems that requires long term political commitment, increased spending in health sector and health reform.
Speaking, Chairman of APHPN Lagos Chapter, Dr Tolu Olufunlayo said that the conference was to start conversation around universal health coverage by identifing the gaps and how to proffer solution.
“In a country such as ours with its unique peculiarities, we must think outside the box to find workable solutions that serve to attract funds and other resources into the health sector.
“We as an association see ourselves as drivers for change in this sector, and we are hopeful that this conference will set off a healthy dialogue among relevant stakeholders; add to the mounting call for action to restore/strengthen the fragile health system; engender networking, partnerships and inter-sectoral collaboration for greater impact on the health status of our populace.”