By Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Saturday decried the state of Nigeria’s health system, saying, 62 years after Nigeria’s independence; the country has no healthcare management system of their dreams.
In its message to mark the 62nd Independence Anniversary of Nigeria, the State Chairman of the NMA, Dr Benjamin Oluwatosin Olowojebutu said the current system is still plagued by strikes, unhealthy professional rivalry, inadequate facilities, and poor working conditions adding that the list goes on.
“A critical examination of our current Healthcare Management system does not make for a pleasant prognosis. It is even more worrisome that the present stochastic services have encouraged unprecedented brain drain.
“Many Healthcare Practitioners are religiously seeking greener pastures in climes where things work, where they can get better remuneration and fulfil their God-given aspirations.
“In the light of the crippling challenges confronting the Healthcare system, we, the current executives at Nigeria Medical Association in Lagos are determined to ensure that the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain.
“To this end, it is our firm belief that our three-pronged focal agenda on The Lagos Doctor, Lagosians and Lagos Healthcare System will move the needle in creating a system that works for everyone,” he stated.
Continuing, Olowojebutu said the import of the tripartite trajectory is that the welfare of Lagos Doctors would be top notch and reasonably encouraging enough to keep their services, the Lagos people would be the cardinal focus of the Lagos Healthcare system, and there will be patriotic advocacy for the improvement of Lagos Healthcare System through various Public-Private-Partnership, particularly in Semi-Urban and Rural Areas.
The NMA insisted that the Lagos state government must prioritise local and foreign training of doctors and other health care personnel as it will further stem the exodus of doctors and other health care personnel to foreign shores.
He emphasized that it is time for the Lagos State Government to immediately revitalise and improve all the Primary Healthcare Centres in Lagos State including the rural areas to bring quality healthcare to the average Lagosian even in the outskirts of Lagos.
He said the action will go a long way in arresting the already decimated systems in these largely forgotten areas of Lagos State.
“There’s is a need for improved investment in infrastructure in the sector. This and other laudable innovations can be achieved with improved budgetary allocation to health to fifteen per cent in line with the Abuja declaration in 2001.
“We would like to state emphatically that we are altruistically ready for any partnership that will positively improve the health status of Nigerians particularly Lagosians. We know the most laudable vehicle for attaining Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria is the National Health Insurance Act.
“We must commend states that have already domesticated the Act but we want to encourage all other states to join in the domestication of the Act.
“This is to also encourage the Lagos State Health Management Authority to intensify more efforts through deliberate partnerships with relevant stakeholders particularly Non-Governmental Organisations in advocating for Lagosians to enrol in the very laudable Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme (Ultra Eko).
“Health Insurance Scheme has proven to be the surest route to more accessibility to healthcare facilities and patients management system even in developed nations.”
He recalled that in the past, different governments have invested heavily in the management of Communicable diseases but unfortunately, the state has had its fair debilitating share of the various complications resulting from the infection of Ebola, Lassa Fever, Covid-19, and now Monkey Pox.
He said it is a pointer that as a nation, Nigeria must have a strategic National Medical Disaster Plan that will help us to be more proactive than reactive.
The NMA Chairman said: “It is also important we also have a strategic Medical Mitigating Blueprint that alleviates the sufferings of our citizens more importantly the aged suffering from non-communicable diseases such as Hypertension and Diabetes.
“The cost of medications is presently at cut-throat prices due to very high import customs duties. Health matters should be more for altruistic purposes and not necessarily pecuniary interests as is the present case with the importation of drugs.
“It is expedient for the National Orientation Agency to wake up responsively to its duty and begin to escalate the enlightenment on the new National Health Insurance Act, NHIA in different Nigerian languages. So that access to healthcare becomes the right and opportunity for every citizen in Nigeria,” he stated.
He said it is possible to build a nation where healthcare for all irrespective of tribe, creed, religion and political affiliation reign, adding that, Nigeria has the opportunity to reverse the prevailing brain drain and improve the healthcare system for the benefit of Nigerians.