• Sunday, April 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

The pathogens of Nigeria’s healthcare sector

‘Metaphor’ – A paradigm shift in Nigerian healthcare

Nigeria’s healthcare system is ranked among the poorest in the world according to the most recent World Health Organization survey. Nigerians who live in a nation without ambulance services or a straightforward toll-free number like 999 to dial in an emergency would not be surprised by this. The likelihood of surviving a heart attack is quite slim in Nigeria.

The average Nigerian will be fortunate to reach the age of 60 at a time when people are generally living longer, with a global average life expectancy of 73 years. Nigeria is one of the four nations with the lowest life expectancies in the world, with a 55-year average.

While the nation’s elites went off to the U.K. and Dubai to receive the medical care, they have callously denied their fellow residents, Nigeria’s health sector has endured severe underfunding for decades. Even the most important person in Nigeria wouldn’t use the healthcare system he oversees; instead, he would openly use the medical facilities his British colleagues built at great expense to the Nigerian government’s coffers.

Perhaps too severely, some individuals have said that hospitals in Nigeria are places where people go to die. Nigerians appear to have accepted the potential of early death if they are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with any significant sickness because the public health system there is characterized by a paucity of medications, weak access to medical aid, and medical specialists.

Except for a few elite private hospitals, the bulk of hospitals in Nigeria are nothing more than empty consulting rooms. Even compassion is lacking, with the poor suffering the brunt of harsh treatment from medical personnel who are overburdened by the daily influx of patients in need of care.

Since patients must cover the full cost of care, nearly 100 million people in Nigeria who live in poverty are essentially priced out of the healthcare system. However, hospitals contend that in the absence of sufficient support from the government, they would be forced to close if they were unable to recover the full cost of care from patients.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveal almost two-thirds of the Nigerian population, live in severe poverty, and cannot afford the deposits needed for very critical medical issues before treatment can even begin.

To reach the 2001 goal of 15% set forth in the Abuja Declaration on improving the health sector, the World Health Organization (WHO) has argued for increased funding for the Nigerian health sector.

Dr. Walter Mulombo, WHO’s representative in Nigeria, revealed this during a press conference with journalists in Abuja.

He mentioned that in April 2001, African Union heads of state made a commitment to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets to enhancing the health sector.

“In Nigeria, it was suggested that 15% of the whole government budget go toward health. We have not yet come close to reaching the goal,’ he said.

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When compared to other sectors like defense and the army, among others, Dr. Mulombo also pointed out that the sector lacked proper funding.

He asserts that having access to healthy living is a fundamental human right, not a luxury or a consumable, and that the more sensible judgments the government makes, the better off its citizens would be.

Dr. Mulombo further stated that in some regions where the organization was accessed, it was evident that 80% of the funds were directed toward tertiary hospitals.

He continued by saying that primary healthcare is where 80% of the people in the communities first encounter medical services.

“The spending is distorted by itself. The main problem that has led to everything we have seen is that one.

“It is difficult for many places to prepare to respond to pandemics, for example, because we lack the necessary budget,” he said.

The fundamental issue, according to Dr. Mulombo, is how health is portrayed as a political option. He added that regrettably, many governments did not uphold the ideal.