BusinessDay

About 78 percent of healthcare spend in Lagos from private sector – Experts

Experts in the private healthcare sector have called for increased recognition of the contribution that the sector makes in expanding the reach of care, noting that about 78 percent of healthcare spending come from private stakeholders.

While they acknowledge that the public sector’s role is essential mostly during public emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, providing funding, equipment, policies and regulations, they said the private sector’s role in the health system is equally critical.

Olufemi Alabi, partner in the transaction advisory service division of Ernst & Young in Nigeria said that the private sector is already transforming the way healthcare is delivered in Nigeria, speaking during R-Jolad’s 40th anniversary commemoration theme “Promoting Quality Care Delivery through Partnerships” in Lagos.

One of the challenges he identified being faced by stakeholders is the lack of working capital which major health drivers and hospitals do not put into consideration before operations. “If you do not have sufficient working capital, it would affect quality, your ability to pay the doctors, and everything,” he said.

According to Alabi, partnership of the public sector with the private should not only bother on facility or monitoring but also the finance of these hospitals, ensuring that it is well thought out and factored.

He highlighted that some pension fund administrators (PFAs) control huge funding for investment against the impression that the sector is faltering on lack of financial empowerment.

“One of the things being considered and looked at now is the ability to raise a healthcare fund that will create long term capital,” he said.

He also advocated for intra-partnerships, such that competent doctors are enabled to set up their private practice, without limitations to seek consolidation and partnership with and from some other qualified doctors, who might own bigger facilities and have access to funding.

It was also pointed out that quality health care delivery cannot be talked about without a focus on health insurance and universal healthcare coverage. Seeing that over 80 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, health insurance is a sure way to push quality healthcare delivery without tearing users’ pockets, he said.

“In Lagos, 70 percent of healthcare is received in the private sector. Lagos is an unusual phenomenon. In the rest of the country, more people receive healthcare in the public space, in Lagos, it’s the private space,” Oreoluwa Finnih, senior special assistant to the governor on health, said.

Finnih explained that with the COVID-19 pandemic, the state increased the labs for testing from three to over 25, adding that the private sector did the bulk of the testing for COVID-19 and also provided care for patients.

In his address, Dele Oladipo, a non-executive director of the hospital said measures have been put in place to drive infant mortality rate to less than 0.3 percent in R-Jolad.

Kola Oni, chief operating officer, R-jolad hospital, described the event as the “celebration of the power of private enterprise in solving some of the biggest challenges in our society.”

R-Jolad was established in 1982 by Funsho Oladipo to deliver quality and affordable healthcare services for all. Today, it has a facility expanding from less than 10 beds to about 185 beds in multiple locations, more than 40 doctors and 140 nurses.

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