• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Nigeria’s private health sector, key in expanding health care delivery


Health systems across Africa are in urgent need of improvement. The public sector should not be expected to shoulder the burden of directly providing the needed services alone, nor can it, given the current realities of African health systems. Therefore to achieve necessary improvements, governments will need to rely more heavily on the private health sector. Indeed, private providers already play a significant role in the health sector in Africa and are expected to continue to play a key role, and private providers serve all income levels across sub- Saharan Africa’s health systems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and others have identified improvements in the way governments interact with and make use of their private health sectors as one of the key ingredients to health systems improvements.

Considered Africa’s economic powerhouse, Nigeria’s health indices has remained a source of concern to health experts as many Nigerian children aged five and below continue to die from preventable childhood diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, measles,  diarrhoea, accounting for more than 70 percent of the estimated one million under-five deaths in Nigeria.

Although analyses of recent trends show that Nigeria is making progress in cutting down infant and under-five mortality rates, the pace still remains too slow to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality by a third by 2015 and improve maternal mortality by three quarters.

Following significant challenges in addressing Nigeria’s health indicator outcomes and the 2015 target getting close, stakeholders in the health sector believe that private sector players in partnership with the government have a significant role to play in advancing the health sector.

Read also: Private Sector Health Alliance pushes for health innovation in Nigeria

This comes as Nigeria’s private sector currently accounts for, at least, half of healthcare service provision and has the potential to expand access to health services, improve the quality of care, contribute to job creation, and the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Muhammad Ali Pate, former minister of state for health, explained that the private health sector has a significant role to play in addressing challenges and accelerating progress in meeting the health-related MDGs.

“I believe the Private Health Sector in Nigeria has the fundamentals to enable it to become the envy of the world, where the healthcare market in Nigeria becomes a hub for healthcare investments. Imagine if we created an enabling environment for local vaccine manufacturing, pharmaceutical companies, hospital chains, diagnostic centers and HMOs.”

Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, chief executive officer, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), a private sector HN, said that the body seeks to create a Nigerian health innovation market place to spur innovation in health and provide market linkages between innovative programmes, technical partners and funding sources in the private and public sector

While noting that its objective is to build a world class private sector-led coalition that accelerates Nigeria’s progress in achieving MDGs 4, 5 and 6 by 2015 and beyond, he said the coalition aims to meet its goals by focusing on innovation, strategic partnerships, and impact investments.

According to him, “They are out to mobilise and inspire Nigeria’s private sector to harness its collective capabilities to realise synergies for catalytic impact. While we undertake high level advocacy engagements for priority policy interventions that will aid in shaping health markets for better private sector engagement, they would take ownership and be collectively responsible for achieving MDGs 4, 5 and 6; save the lives of women and children which is at the heart of everything they do”