The quality and accessibility of health care have long been known to have a disproportionate impact on Nigerians wellbeing and the economy at large. Nigeria’s health sector performance in 2020 depends on the Federal Government’s commitment to addressing key fundamental issues that have continued to make it difficult to have access to quality healthcare.
Four essential elements are driving the major fall-outs in Nigeria’s healthcare transformation: poor universal health coverage, inadequate infrastructure, poor human resources planning, and management practices and structures causing brain drain and low budgetary of government commitments.
To this end, worrying health sector watchers have stressed that there is a need for the government to manage the improvement of primary healthcare centres and brain drain overwhelming Nigeria if they want to tackle back lodge experience of the huge supply-side problem, the country is challenged with.
Can Nigeria really improve the supply side in the healthcare space and improve development in tertiary health institution?
Nigeria’s health institutions of higher learning, especially the teaching hospitals have consistently been undermined by several government policies, a development that stalled their developmental capacities in providing medical education and training to future and current health professionals.
Ola Orekunrin-Brown, chief executive officer (CEO), Flying Doctors Nigeria observed that it is high time health systems in Nigeria optimized resource allocation to focus on reducing the disparity in health-access and quality of health within the majority, rather than extending life for the minority.
Brown further informed that when individuals do not have the usual source of primary care because of geographic, financial, or other barriers, the care they receive through emergency departments maybe both costly and inefficient.
More and better working conditions, investment more technology for health is already on the prospect.
Brown explained that an innovative approach to healthcare in Nigeria, using telemedicine, remote support for paraclinical healthcare staff and institution of robust systems to manage patient journeys is also what we need.
“In addition to this, embarking on protocolization of common and easily preventable disease management guidelines, task shifting and efficient referral systems will transform healthcare in Nigeria by improving accessibility and reducing cost,” she said.
Brown urged that poverty magnifies the need for healthcare whilst simultaneously decreasing the capacity to finance it, stating that Africa’s healthcare problems are mainly economic.
“With low per capita income, limited growth prospects, poor domestic revenue mobilization potential, shortages of health manpower/brain drain and the highest disease the burden in the world, Africa faces extremely complex health financing decisions.”
“There is less money available to build and run specialist hospitals in Nigeria compared to the UK. By re-organizing our healthcare system, we can improve healthcare, but the issue of financing remains.
“To deliver healthcare that approaches the standard available in the developed world, Nigeria governments will not only have to find more sources of finance but also tackle challenges,|” said Brown.
Runcie Chidebe, executive director, Project PINK BLUE, Commonwealth Scholar, Transforming and Leading in Health Care, Birmingham City University says that he expects that Federal Ministry of Health can manage the current patient and brain drain hitting Nigeria.
“It is unacceptable that in Nigeria we have one doctor per 5,000 people, only 3,000 doctors’ graduate annually and 88 percent of these doctors are considering traveling abroad for work.”
“if Nigeria’s healthcare does not take this as a serious issue in 2020, then we may face the worst health indices ever, considering that Saudia Arabia and other countries are continuously making it easier for our doctors to leave Nigeria to their countries,” he said.
In mapping how Nigerian can go about reducing brain drain and improve primary healthcare to meet global standards of universal health. Larne Yusuf, a medical practitioner based in Lagos said that the continually ignored the current trend of scarce human resources for health professionals from Nigeria is not been curtailed which does not bode well for the country.
“Governments need to invest in human resources which will reduce the underdevelopment of the country and will keep her people away from the vicious of poverty,” Yusuf said.
Doyin Odubanjo, chairman, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter, said there was a need to make the primary healthcare centre functional to make them available to provide some level of delivery services when needed.
“The current backdrop and next steps for improving the quality of health care in Nigeria is through collaboration and addressing the gaps in primary healthcare,” said Odubanjo.