The Director-General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), an umbrella body of Governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman has said, one of the big lessons Covid-19 brings to Nigerians is that the nation’s health and safety can only be guaranteed with good public investment in the health sector.
According to Lukman, at this early stages of the manifestations of the threat of Covid-19 in Nigeria, Nigerians need to take urgent steps to recover their humanity if at all they want to focus ourselves to ensure that their responses help in producing the needed changes that could protect lives of citizens, guarantee quality and accessible healthcare services.
He said all these can only be achieved through high public investment in the health sector, which will also be partly dependent on similar high public investment in the education sector that will be required to produce the medical personnel.
Lukman who made these assertions in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja said the effectiveness of responses to COVID 19 will be determined by the quality of services provided by the health sector, initiatives around healthcare service delivery.
The PGF Director General observed that given the terrible state of hospitals in Nigeria, almost every citizen believes that to find a cure for any sickness, major or minor, Nigerians have to go outside the country.
“Irrespective of our earnings or social status, it is a common belief across all divides in the country. As a result, everybody’s instinct, once faced with a medical challenge is to mobilise financial resources, which many have to achieve through donations by family members and well-wishers. With Covid-19 dangers facing all countries equally, most of the countries that used to be destinations for Nigerians in search of medical services have shut down.
“Therefore, part of what could be the challenge facing us as Nigerians may be the issue of initiating processes of developing our health sector such that it is able to mobilise our leaders and citizens to work in harmony.
“In this trying time, there are hard facts that we must come to terms with. As Nigerians, since the mid-1980s, our public policy thrust discourages public expenditure in health and education. In some ways, Covid-19 pandemic is confronting us with the opportunity to revisit our public policy thrust.
“As Ms. Rice has argued, nobody will ‘do the hard bending’ for us. In any case, every country is facing those basic challenges around making difficult public policy choices. In our context as Nigerians, are we ready to collectively work to revive our healthcare delivery services and educational institutions? Or are we going through another cycle of consolidating the same public policies that discourage public investment in our health and educational sectors?
“Whether we will be able to respond to this challenge positively depends on our ability to engage our leaders and through such engagements strengthen their capacity to courageously act for higher public investments in health and educational sectors. It is also about whether our leaders are disposed to public recommendations. In other words, are we ready as a nation to produce new policy equilibrium for the country?
‘The reality is that the world is yet to produce any country where the health and education sectors were developed with private sector investments. Nigeria, like many so-called developing countries, was a victim of ideological subjugation by global financial institutions.
“It is true that our leaders have disappointed us over the years. It is also true that our leaders have, with hardly any exception, piloted the affairs of our country with submissive compliance to the philosophy that discourages public investment in health and educational sectors, at least since the mid-1980s.
“Most cases of public investments in these sectors prioritises constructions of hospitals and schools or classrooms. In very rare instances, the limited investments cover provisions of medical equipment. Investments in the development of healthcare personnel, medicine, research, teachers, books, etc. are hardly considered”, he narrated.