• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

PPP crucial in resuscitating Nigeria’s healthcare delivery

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With significant inequalities in access to healthcare services and dearth of medical facilities remaining a major affront to Nigeria’s healthcare indices among global indices, an estimated $500millon is believed to leave annually in form of foreign treatment to countries like India, Germany, United Kingdom, etc.

While health inequalities is worsened due to the fact that of the 63 percent of health expenditure that is privately financed, 95 percent is funded out of pocket, unlocking market potential for health by creating an enabling environment for private sector to grow and effective public-private partnership remains key in resuscitating the nation’s healthcare delivery system.

Speaking during United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Private Health Sector trade fair in Lagos, Jide Idris, commissioner for health, Lagos State said that the current state of healthcare in the country needs further improvement in health outcomes and quality of care. This, the commissioner, pointed out is because insufficient protection from financial risk due to costs of healthcare has continued to become a major concern in the sector.

“The private health sector has a significant role to play in addressing these challenges and accelerating progress in meeting the health-related MDGs. Government cannot do it alone- there is need for the government and private sector to work together more constructively to ensure availability and access to health services for all Nigerians irrespective of socio-economic status.

“The 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),” the commissioner pointed out.

Lending his view, Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, CEO, Juli Pharmacy plc said that though the interests of public and private sector in the country may align well with the client remaining the major concern, bottlenecks like insufficient professional and technical training, inadequate funding, dearth of medical facilities may hamper effective healthcare delivery in the country.

Adelusi-Adeluyi noted that addressing such bottlenecks and effective public-private partnerships would go a long way in repositioning the health sector.

“Two factors which have emerged as being critical to unlocking the market potentials of the health sector includes improving access to finance as well as developing and enforcing regulation and policies that stimulate the sector, reduce the bottlenecks to effective private sector engagement and cost of doing business in healthcare.

“Interestingly, a guaranty provided by USAID through the Development Credit Authority (DCA) facility is a welcome development as it is creating an enabling environment to access loans through partnerships with Diamond Bank and Accion Microfinance Bank. Imagine if we created an enabling environment for pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic centres and Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs). This would enable us better harness the resources and expertise of our medical diaspora,” Adelusi-Adeluyi explained.

For Anthony Omolola, national president, Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN), limited health insurance coverage and the slow progress in integrating the private sector into the policy enforcement has affected private sector effective participation in changing the dynamics of service delivery in the health sector.

“Although there is no shortage of well-trained providers (doctors, nurses, pharmacists), they are not being encouraged to open their own private practices. The main barriers are poor infrastructure, no access to credit, and unfair competition with unregulated, less-skilled providers,” Omolola pointed out.

With the growth in Nigeria’s gross domestic product, new opportunities for investment in and expansion of the private health sector as private providers have a key role in contributing to positive public health outcomes.

Over 60 percent of Nigeria’s healthcare sector is dominated by the private sector, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank Group, has said, with share of the private sector set to grow relatively to overall growth in the market.

With specialists frequently serving at both public tertiary care centres and separate private practices, approximately half of modern diagnostics such as mammogram, CT, MRI scan machines as well as 72 percent of all private hospital revenues are absorbed by the nation’s private sector.

While the private sector is gradually becoming patients’ preferred choice because of greater accessibility, a higher perceived quality of services, the continuity of care it offers, and the availability of drugs is in private sector as people often bypass free public health facilities in order to access private facilities.

This pronouncement by the IFC comes as it plans to invest N9.6 billion ($60 million) to increase the scale and scope of franchised health care, expanding from reproductive health to also address malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, nutrition, maternal care, HIV and TB and strengthen healthcare providers (hospitals, clinics, pharmacies).

Stakeholders in the health sector believe that efforts need to be made by government and development partners to effectively link active and targeted demand creation efforts to supply side strategies, create effective policy environment, and pursue a rigorous knowledge agenda for this sector to reach its maximum potential.

Undoubtedly, a vibrant and expanding private sector will help reduce the demand on public sector facilities in providing priority health services.

 

ALEXANDER CHIEJINA