• Thursday, May 30, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Powering prosperity through accessible healthcare

Powering prosperity through accessible healthcare

Nigeria aspires to be an economic powerhouse, driving innovation across Africa. But this dream hinges on a critical factor: a healthy, productive workforce. Unfortunately, for many Nigerians, quality healthcare remains elusive. This lack of access not only creates individual hardship but also poses a significant threat to our collective economic well-being.

Imagine a simple illness escalating into a serious health crisis because a nearby primary healthcare centre (PHC) is non-existent. This scenario, sadly, is a daily reality for countless Nigerians. The overburdened healthcare system struggles to cope, leading to longer wait times, higher costs, and ultimately, poorer care for everyone. This vicious cycle not only impacts individual well-being but also translates into lost productivity, absenteeism, and a weakened national economic engine. Preventable illness burdens businesses and strains government resources, hindering long-term growth

The power of primary care

Across the globe, robust primary healthcare systems have proven essential for a healthy and productive society. Investing in primary care does not only benefit individuals; it yields significant returns for businesses and the nation as a whole. Studies show that a healthy workforce takes fewer sick days, leading to significant cost savings for businesses. But the benefits go beyond the bottom line. Healthy employees are more engaged and focused, driving innovation and productivity within companies.

The Adopt-A-Healthcare Facility Programme (ADHFP) is a powerful example of how collaboration can significantly improve healthcare access. It is not simply about renovating primary healthcare buildings; it is igniting a nationwide movement by bringing people and resources together. The results speak for themselves. In 2023, there were dramatic increases in how many people were able to get the care they needed at its pilot facilities, Jumberi PHC in Bauchi and Model PHC Boji Boji in Delta. Outpatient visits soared by 348 percent, demonstrating a surge in access to basic medical services. Even more promising, there was an 832 percent rise in antenatal care visits, a strong indicator of a healthier future generation as mothers receive proper care. The programme goes even further by emphasising the importance of skilled healthcare workers. The most impactful statistic might be the 1,820 percent increase in skilled births. The ADHFP ensures this positive impact continues for years to come by investing in health worker training.

The business case

There is a win-win scenario for businesses that invest in a healthy workforce. A healthy staff translates into a thriving economy by fueling growth, attracting investment, and creating a vibrant society. The benefits are clear. Studies show businesses can see significant cost savings due to fewer sick days. But it is not about the bottom line alone. Healthy employees are more engaged and focused, leading to higher productivity and innovation within the company. Furthermore, supporting healthcare initiatives shows commitment to employee well-being. This fosters a positive work environment, boosting morale and reducing costs associated with recruitment and training new staff.

Beyond primary care:

Building a strong primary healthcare system is a critical first step, but for long-term success, a more comprehensive approach is needed. Businesses can play a key role by partnering with organisations that promote preventative measures and healthy habits within communities. This empowers people to take charge of their own well-being. Consider supporting initiatives that provide vaccinations or raise awareness about essential health screenings. Additionally, collaborating with organisations to tackle medication availability ensures people have the medicine they need to manage their health effectively. Businesses are not only contributing to a healthier workforce by investing in these areas; they are also helping to build a more empowered and resilient society as a whole.

How businesses can get involved:

Businesses can be powerful drivers of change, and there are several ways to get involved. Direct funding can support initiatives like the ADHFP, expanding their reach and impact. Businesses can also leverage their talent pools. Employees with skills in marketing, supply chain, or project management can volunteer their expertise to directly support programme operations. Looking inward, businesses can partner with healthcare providers to promote preventative care within their workforce. This not only keeps employees healthy but also reduces future healthcare costs for both the company and the individual. Finally, businesses can leverage their collective voice by advocating for stronger primary healthcare policies that benefit the entire nation by joining forces with existing organisations.

The road ahead:

Implementing widespread improvements presents challenges. Funding limitations and infrastructure development needs must be addressed. However, the potential return on investment is undeniable. Businesses and communities can build a healthier Nigeria for everyone by working together.

We can unlock the full potential of a healthy and prosperous Nigeria by taking action. We should build a brighter future, one empowered community at a time.

 

About the author:

Ota Akhigbe is a passionate leader for social impact and economic development in Nigeria with over 15 years of experience across various industries. Her passion lies in driving impactful change through strategic partnerships and innovative solutions.