• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Lagos guber: Candidates pledge to tackle brain drain, medical tourism, healthcare financing, others

Lagos guber: Candidates pledge to tackle brain drain, medical tourism, healthcare financing, others

Ahead of the 2023 general election, Lagos State governorship candidates have promised to provide solutions to issues around brain drain, medical tourism, improving the compensation to medical workers, medical digitalisation, and healthcare financing.

The candidates have signed their commitments to implement the health security agenda in Lagos State with a symbolic pledge card as a symbol of their obligations.

This is coming against the backdrop that while Lagos State has made significant progress in the area of health security, significant gaps still exist.

The candidates made the pledge last Wednesday during a Stakeholder engagement with political party leaders and gubernatorial candidates in Lagos organised by the Global Health Advocacy Incubator in partnership with Legislative Initiative For Sustainable Development.

Eight candidates out of ten were present during the engagement.

Funso Doherty, Lagos State governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), while responding to a question on how he will address the challenges in the Lagos State health sector if voted into power said his administration would prioritise education and health care systems and restore the trust that is lacking, particularly concerning public sector facilities.

He said: “We have what we call the TIGER agenda. E stands for Education and health systems that people should trust.

“My administration will be hinged on compensation which has to improve in Lagos. There is a need to set up a benchmark, not just for the doctors alone but it should cut across board in the state.

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“We will emphasise primary health care, critical care, and life-saving emergency systems. We also need to realise that health is not an area of profit-making but for the social good, that is our philosophical standpoint. Everywhere in the world, the government has to fund health care. Funding and financing will be key.”

Akinwumi Braithwaite, gubernatorial candidate, National Rescue Movement (NRM), said his agenda for health and health security for Lagos State was categorised into short, medium, and long term.

“In terms of the short-term plan, we are looking at a situation where we need to quickly ramp up training for paramedics due to the brain drain.

“We will talk to multilateral agencies, even bilateral agencies that are geared towards providing assistance in terms of drugs- to help us in terms of the drugs, the availability, even use scooters.

“There is no shortcut; we have to speak to remuneration and conditions of service. A lion’s share to finance the health sector will be provided even if the private sector will be involved. So, that will take care of the immediate funding aspect and the immediate nature of what we can do in terms of primary health care,” Braithwaite said.

Speaking on the rationale behind the engagement, Gafar Alawode project director of Prevent Epidemics Project, said that the forthcoming general election comes with a policy-reset window that can be leveraged to engage the political class, deepen their understanding of key health policy thrusts, and secure their buy-in.

“We expect this engagement to facilitate the implementation of the identified key policy priorities in the next political dispensation,” Alawode said.

According to him, as part of efforts geared towards repositioning the health and health security landscape of Lagos State, critical stakeholders need to take advantage of the policy-reset window that comes with the general election to put the health and health security agenda on the political front burner in the state.

“This engagement helps us to deepen the understanding of the political class and other stakeholders on the health security gaps and acquaint them with available strategic policy options for strengthening the health and health security legal, policy, and financing landscape in Lagos State.

“We also seize this opportunity to encourage the candidates to prioritise health and health security in their development agenda and obtain commitments from the candidates towards enhanced prioritisation of health and health security in government spending, among other things,” he said.

In the same view, Hassan-Obalola Tawakalt Dasola, state project director of Prevent Epidemics Project, while delivering her address on the ‘Overview of Health Security Legal, Policy and Financing Landscape in Lagos State,’ said that they were looking forward to a robust framework for Health Security in Lagos State as well as a domestication of the action plan.

Sa’eid Ahmad, chairman of the Medical Guild, Lagos State, called the Governorship candidates in Lagos State to prioritise healthcare financing, saying that budgetary allocation to health must meet the World Health Organisation’s minimum of 15 percent.

The absent candidates were Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC and Olajide Abdulazeez Adeniran of the PDP Governorship candidate.

Those who attended the dialogue include Funso Doherty of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Braithwaite Akinwunmi of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), Adenipebi Adekunle of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Adebayo Ajayi of Young Progressive Party (YPP), Adeyemi Abiola of Action Peoples Party (APP), Funmilayo Kupoliyi, Allied People Movement (APM) Dickson Olaogun of the (AA) and Olayiwola Olajide of African Action Congress (AAC).