Nigeria at 54: Doctors call for more invest in health

Abuja – The Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) on Wednesday advised Nigeria to make more investment in the health sector as the country marked its 54 anniversary.
However, the association noted that Nigeria had made progress in its healthcare delivery service during its existence as an independent nation.
This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja by Dr Osahon Enabulele, CMA’s Vice President (West Africa region).
CMA said although Nigeria had recorded improvements in its colonial and post-independence health indices, it however noted that the sector needed to do better to address challenges of access to funding and infrastructure, among others.
The statement said areas where the sector recorded great improvement included health infrastructure, availability of health human resource and training institutions for medical doctors/dentists and allied health professionals.
It identified the recent successes recorded in the fight against Ebola Virus Disease, and the improvements in infant and maternal mortality rates as some of the country’s achievements within the period under review.
The statement, however, stressed that Nigeria needed improvement in all aspects of its health system.
It said general health care system when compared to other developing countries was still largely deficient across the different tiers.
“Government at all levels had yet to decisively address most of the basic challenges confronting the health sector.
“At 54, Nigeria’s health care system is still being undermined by the poor political commitment to health and the health care needs of Nigerians, by Nigeria’s top political and public office holders.
“The health sector is also still blighted by poor budgeting for health at Federal, State and Local Government levels,’’ it said.
The statement said the Nigerian elites’ penchant for medical care in foreign hospitals had lent credence to the present situation of the health system in the country.
It said investments in the sector had not been proportionate with growth in population and the emergence of new communities in the country.
“At 54, Nigeria is yet to enact a National Health Act while Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria is still hovering around a miserable seven per cent coverage, far lower than rates seen in other less endowed countries like Rwanda, Tanzania and Ghana.
“At 54, Nigeria is yet to witness massive investments in health research, particularly Public Health Research and other areas of operational research.
“The glaring absence of proactive research efforts (by African countries, including Nigeria) to develop a preventive vaccine or a drug cure for Ebola Virus Disease since its first outbreak in 1976, is a clear testimony of the poor priority for health research,’’ the statement read in part.
It said Nigeria’s health sector was still challenged by lack of security for health workers, while the huge deficit in the health human resource was still on the increase.
CMA said the creation of a separate commission would remove the current bureaucracy and red tapestry in the sector to bring about massive improvement in the sector.
The statement also urged stakeholders and government to urgently enact laws that would reform the sector in line with international standards to avoid a total collapse of the system. (NAN)

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