Nigeria’s Health Sector And The Need For A Revamp

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It is no longer news that there is the need to revamp Nigeria’s health sector.

For the past three years , the call to restructure this agency has been made at an alarming rate from various individuals in the society.

I remember some months ago in the year 2023 while featuring a medical personnel on one of my radio programmes [Dr] Adegoke Dawodu while speaking on the state of health in the country , he made mention of the fact that the sector is in a state of comatose .

Often times we read in the newspapers, online platforms where the past and current government of the day says that medical practitioners should stop traveling abroad to seek greener pastures, but it appears that our leaders have been turning their backs against the truth which happens to be the reality faced by ordinary nigerians. The question now is , who will save the health sector ? How do we ensure proper funding of this agency in our land?

This will lead me to the brief history of the National Health Insurance Scheme [NHIS} which is well known in the country.

With effort made by the federal government to reduce  the worsening state of health, the Nigerian health insurance scheme (NHIS) that was established in 2005 by Decree 35 of 1999, provided for the establishment of a governing council with the responsibility of managing the scheme. However, report further revealed that the scheme was first proposed in 1962 under a bill to parliament by the then Minister for Health.

Moving further, after the birth of this organization came to limelight, there was the need for a layed down objectives which would help to foster the purpose for which it was made and these are: to ensure that every Nigerian has access to good health care services, protect Nigerians from the financial burden of medical bills, limit the rise in the cost of health care services, to provide adequate distribution of health facilities within the federation and supply funds to the sector in order to improve its services . After all these items have been listed , can we say that they have been made available in our dear country with all that the masses are experiencing ?

If the health sector is good our leaders would not have any reason to go overseas to seek for medical attention and tell Nigerians to keep enduring the hardship being faced. For some weeks now, in the entertainment industry, the social media and other reliable news outlets have been reporting the situation of a veteran nollywood actor , John Okafor popularly known as ”Mr Ibu” who has been in a critical condition and had to be flown outside the country for medical attention.
Some hours ago , members of the Nigerian Medical Association released a statement to news men concerning the increase in the price of drugs which is now being sold at different pharmaceutical stores nationwide.

According to the chairman of the Lagos State branch of the NMA, Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, the development has resulted in serious panic from those facing different health challenges as some do not have the financial capacity  to purchase the drugs.

This situation can be likened to a young man who has a gas but cannot fill it because of non-availability of money but the question is: what will happen to him especially when he is hungry? Its either he borrows money from someone or dies of hunger. Now that the cost of an inhaler is 8000 naira, does it now mean that those who cannot afford it should die because we have a government who is not considering what the masses are going through? what an unfortunate situation we have in our nation.

However, you might be wondering why there is an increment in the price of drugs, but this cannot be unconnected to the removal of fuel subsidy by the president on May 29 2023, and ever since then, prices of goods and services have gone very high.

While reacting to this development, the chief executive officer of remedial group nigeria , Mr Samuel Okuada suggested that there should be the reduction of the duties of medicines which according to him would help to alleviate the cost of its order.
” Can you relax the duties of medicines which would at least help to alleviate the cost of clearing these things at the port and easily  take off as much as 20 to 25 percent of the cost of these medicines at our port”.

Meanwhile , we only hope that our leaders in the national level see this suggestion as a good idea and those of us in the media both television and radio continue to appeal to the government to make the health care of every individual in the country their concern.

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