By Juliet Umeh
In order to achieve Universal Health Coverage for Nigerians, the Managing Director of Flying Doctors Nigeria, Dr Ola Brown, calls for more investment in the health sector.
Brown said until there is a large investment in the sector, access to healthcare for all may not be possible.
She said this last week, at the sideline of Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria,’ a programme organised by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, in partnership with the Lagos State Government.
Addressing concerns on five percent allocation to primary healthcare emergency and it’s impact so far, Brown said: “The budget of National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, in England is almost $200 billion and the population of the United Kingdom, is just $65 million. Nigeria’s federal budget for health care is $1billion and the population is almost 200 million.
“That means that if the UK was to give us one year budget, they can fund our budget for 200years.
“We need to donor more money into the health ciiare, until we get a large investment in the healthcare with every single person in every single place begins to feel it,” Brown explained.
Also responding to high import duties for medical equipments, she said: “We need to look at the duties on medical equipment, and see how we can bring which ever taxes or duties down to zero and that would make people to be able to bring more medical equipment in Nigeria.
“Also, I do feel that the medical equipment available globally is actually a bit too expensive for what people can afford.
For example, the ventilator that we use,is $50, 000. Now what fees are you going to charge a patient to use that machine.
“So what is happening in India is that they have been designing their own equipment that is far cheaper and because of that, that’s part of the reasons why health care is so cheap in India.
“So that requires investment in education and research so that we can start designing our own equipment that is far cheaper than what is available else where.
Meanwhile, Flying Doctors Nigeria is a company into the business of moving patients from areas where the health care is not so good to better areas of help care.
Giving her opinion on emergency medicine, Brown said emergency medicine is such an important component of health care because it ensures that people can get to the right medical facility that can take care of them within the right time frame, thereby preventing deaths and disability for young and active members of the population.