By; Matthew Ukachunwa, Lagos.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has decried the under-funding of the health sector, and urged Nigerians to press for its appropriate funding.
“There is chronic under-funding in the Nigerian healthcare
system,” he said.
According to him, 2013 databank released by the World
Bank showed that Nigeria has the least contribution to the healthcare sector from government circle in Africa.
“We are even behind South Sudan in terms of the percentage of the GDP that we are devoting to health, Adewole said during a visit in Lagos.
He therefore, pleaded with the citizenry to contribute in the effort to persuade government to improve budgetary allocation to the health sector.
“In fact,” he stressed, “in the health sector, it is Nigerians who should be fighting for me. I shouldn’t be the person agitating for better funding. The media should fight for us. The people of Nigeria should demand a bigger slash of the budget, because when the nation is healthy, we can produce in a proactive manner. You cannot develop the economy with sick people. You need them to be healthy” he stressed.
He stated that first thing they did when they came on board was to diagnose the healthcare sector in order to discover its challenges, why it is under-performing and what can be done to make Nigerian health sector deliver good services to the people.
The Health Minister implored Nigerians to do a comparative analysis of budgetary appropriation to health in especially other African countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt and consequently make a case for the health sector in Nigeria.
“You see, it is difficult for me as a Minister to fight for myself,” he continued, “So please, look at it objectively and speak for health because you might be the next person who will need the service.”
Adewole during a facility tour of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), observed with dismay the congestion in the
Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit, and directed that the hospital should devise a system that will lead to evacuation of patients within 24 hours.
He pointed out that the Accident and Emergency Unit is the face of the hospital, noting that no one will give credit to any hospital that fails to respond to emergency on time.
“When Accident and Emergency room is congested that
facility cannot absorb new cases,” the Minister added.
He also directed that once any accident and emergency cases
are met they have to be moved out to the wards, or discharge
patients who are in stable condition in order to create space for new cases.
He warned tertiary health institutions in the country against denying poor Nigerians deserved medical services because they do not have money, saying that it is unjustifiable to do so.
“Those who are poor should enjoy our services. They are Nigerians. Until we can prove to the outside world that they are not Nigerians, we cannot deny them treatment,” he said, adding “the poor ones will now become the responsibility of the service.”
Adewole assured that a system of health insurance scheme or
in the form of health levy that create the resources to take
care of every Nigerian will be established.
He disclosed that poverty indicators in Nigeria reveal high figures. “When we look at poverty indicators in Nigeria, about 60-70 percent of Nigerians are actually poor. That means that honestly, almost 180 million Nigerians are poor. To me that is quite massive,” the health Minister stated.
In the course of facility inspection at LUTH, the Minister was annoyed over the darkness he met at the hospital’s wards, but his frowns vanished when he visited the site of the on-going power project of the hospital which will, when completed, deliver 24-hour uninterrupted lpower supply daily.
“I’m particularly fascinated with the Independent Power Project (IPP) to ensure that LUTH has stable electricity supply 24/7,” he said.
He was also delighted when he saw that the hospital’s water treatment plant that was abandoned for over 25 years is now functional once more.
“I think it is important to appreciate the management of Lagos University Teaching Hospital for the renovation that is on-going in the facility. I’m quite impressed. It is not easy to maintain an old institution. It takes more money to actually renovate and rehabilitate than to put up a new one, so I must commend
them,” Adewole remarked.