By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Political leaders in Nigeria have been urged to leverage on the free consultancy provided by traditional and religious leaders to solve the myriads of challenges facing the country’s health sector and its funding.nguard
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar, Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Buba and other traditional rulers gave the charge yesterday at the Policy Dialogue of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 41 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru, near Jos.
Speaking separately on the theme: Funding Universal Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria: Integrating the Perspectives of Traditional and Religious Institutions, the Sultan who is the Chairman of NIPSS Heritage Council said; ”Politicians should think, why was it that during the polio outbreak, no headway was made until the involvement of tradition leaders and within the first year, the prevalence of polio was interrupted by 98 percent?
“This is because the common Nigerian has so much trust in the traditional and religious institutions. Whatever the Pastor or Imam says becomes law to them so then, why don’t the politicians leverage on this to get free consultancy not only in the area of health care but others too?”
He wondered why primary health care was controlled by the federal government when the first contact to the common man is the Ward Head, stressing, “Nigeria cannot continue to parade empty health care structures as achievements of governors when medical facilities, drugs and health care providers are not present in those facilities.”
The Olu on his part tasked the participants to at least spend a week in rural communities to hear the plights of rural dwellers as regard to accessing primary health care services saying, “participants of SEC. 41 of the institute should not limit their research work to only visiting the cities alone, they should find time to spend a week with the rural people who suffer most and hear their plights as regard to accessing primary health care services in their locality.”
He further lamented the high cost of administration and governance in Nigeria saying the development is hindering the growth of other sectors.
However, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba urged the federal government to see reason to implement the recommendations of the report when completed.
Earlier, the Director General of NIPSS, Prof. Habu Galadima said the participants had examined the frameworks of funding universal health care delivery in Nigeria and challenges hence the need to draw perspectives of traditional rulers to be integrated into their report.