Some medical experts have called on the three tiers of government to pay more attention to the health sector and equip the system for optimal service delivery to all classes of Nigerians.
They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of the “2020 Democracy Day” celebration on Friday in Lagos, saying a lot still needed to be done in the nation’s health system.
Speaking, a Medical Imaging Scientist, Dr Livinus Abonyi, urged the Federal Government, in particular, to seize the opportunity of COVID-19 outbreak to restructure, improve and strengthen the nation’s health system.
Abonyi, also a lecturer in the Department of Medical Radiography, Faculty of Clinical Sciences at the University of Lagos’ College of Medicine, said the health and education sector, very paramount in any economy, had been neglected for too long.
According to him, the COVID-19 experience should serve as a wake-up call for governments to look inward and see how it can improve the health system to meet international standards.
He said the country had enough funding to furnish its health facilities to meet optimum standard such that no Nigerian or political leader would spend money going abroad in search of quality medical services.
“After COVID-19, a lot of things are going to change, both locally and globally, which makes it imperative that the government should equip the health system with optimum service delivery.
“The reason why people don’t want to spend more time to receive healthcare at public hospitals is not because the manpower/workers are not enough.
“It is because the services and facilities are far more fewer than the number of patients that need them.
“As a result, there is room for compromise in the public hospitals.
“Therefore, it is necessary that the government step up to equip the public hospitals with adequate facilities for efficient performance,” he said.
The scientist also emphasised the need for increase in the budgetary allocation to the sector to at least meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) minimum requirement for a country.
He expressed optimism that an increase in the budgetary allocation would bring remarkable improvement in the health system.
“Currently, Nigeria is rated by the WHO as the 187th out of 191 countries in the world, in terms of quality of healthcare delivery.
“WHO also rates Nigeria as the third country with the highest infant mortality in the world; such ratings are unhealthy for a developing country like Nigeria.
“Previously, the country was not making up to 40 per cent of WHO’s stipulated allocation for the health sector, and that is why our health system is weak.
“If the billions of Naira that are formally spent abroad for medical treatment of most political leaders could be retained and invested into the health sector, it will go a long way to boost Nigeria’s health system,” Abonyi said.
Contributing, a General Physician, Dr Patrick Omogbohun, urged the governments to prioritise workers’ welfare, particularly health workers whose lives were usually at higher risk in the event of disease outbreaks.
Omogbohun, who is the Medical Director, MercyWay Medical Centre, Ejigbo, Lagos, a private health facility, stressed the need for adequate remuneration and rewards for the medical personnel, who sacrificed to be at the frontline of COVID-19 battle.
“The welfare and safety of the medical workers should be the topmost priority because without them, the battle against outbreaks will not be won and the world will not achieve the universal health coverage.
“As a matter of importance, governments should strive to rectify every demand and controversy that may lead to health workers embarking on industrial action,” he said.
Also, Mrs Rose Mordi, the President, Down Syndrome Foundation of Nigeria (DSFN), decried the increase in medical tourism among Nigerian health workers in search of better working conditions.
Mordi advised the governments to strive to improve the working conditions of health workers to guide against the medical tourism syndrome among them.
She said that the Nigeria health sector has capable hands when it came to manpower.
Mordi expressed optimism that Nigeria’s health sector would improve for better after the COVID-19 experience. (NAN)