by Ife Adebayo
We need to move from the era of doctors treating patients like beggars to an era where healthcare is an industry that caters to the needs of the patients and an industry that makes enough money to pay staff…
In my last Y! Politico article titled ‘Food is what Nigerians really need’ I stated that in the Nigerian hierarchy of needs food, electricity, shelter, roads, education, employment and healthcare are the most basic needs for every Nigerian that government has to ensure are met. I also spoke about food and the need for Nigeria’s agricultural industry to move from rain-fed seasonal agriculture to actual high level mechanized agriculture. Today I’ll be writing about health.
I should state that I am no expert on health matters and I don’t have any career or educational health experience. But what I have is what most Nigerians have. I have the experience of falling sick, I have the experience of visiting hospitals, I have the experience of seeing friends and relatives die in hospital avoidably, I have the experience of seeing people have accidents and not have any good healthcare facility close by or emergency health response system. With these experiences I think I have enough experience to write about what will be a basic standard of healthcare for Nigerians.
The Nigerian Constitution in section 17 states: The state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that: (3c) the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused; and section (3d) states: there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons. I don’t need a soothsayer to tell us that the Nigerian Federal Government of the PDP in 16 years has failed Nigerians in this part of their constitutional responsibility. But before we talk about the federal failings, let us look at the constitutional responsibilities of states and local governments.
The fourth schedule of the Nigerian constitution chapter 2 states: The functions of a local government council shall include participation of such council in the Government of a State as respects the following matters (c) the provision and maintenance of health services. This means for most Nigerian states and local governments they have also failed Nigerians in this respect.
I drive around Nigeria and see empty new buildings with sign boards saying ‘Primary Health Care Centre’. The states and local governments have largely ignored the primary health care centres. The federal medical centres and teaching hospitals have all gone down to levels of shame. You enter a supposedly ‘renowned’ teaching hospital like UCH and you see poor facilities, no electricity, ill-mannered nurses and doctors, foul odours just to mention a few. You hear of patients dying because there was no blood there was no oxygen, there was an electricity outage during a surgical operation. This is 2013, these things are inexcusable for a nation as rich as Nigeria.
The Nigerian healthcare system needs to firm up and become a true institution for health and also be a sector that enriches our environment. The government needs to develop health policies that not only provide healthcare but provides it in an affordable manner that still ensures the enrichment of the health providers. The National Health Insurance Scheme needs to be better run; it needs to be run in a way that the right people get access to healthcare services, what we have currently is that employed people may get access to healthcare when they are registered under the NHIS. But this system does not cater for the woman selling roasted corn by the road, the okada rider, and the bus conductor, just to mention a few. These ignored citizens are the most vulnerable and they are the ones that need the free healthcare most.
The Local Governments should offer health insurance via cooperative associations. Corn sellers, okada riders, farmers etc can come under cooperatives and be insured while this money is used to pay for their healthcare in any approved healthcare institution in the community. Every community MUST have at least one functional primary healthcare centre which caters to the immediate health needs of the community. Comprehensive means of providing independent power generation capabilities for all state and federal medical centres must be set up. Training and re-training of medical personnel must be given priority.
We need to move from the era of doctors treating patients like beggars to an era where healthcare is an industry that caters to the needs of the patients and an industry that makes enough money to pay staff, train staff, purchase/maintain equipment and build/maintain infrastructure. This is 2013; Nigeria needs to move from the healthcare of the 70s to modern healthcare standards.
Ife Adebayo is an IT Consultant with work experience in Germany, United Kingdom and Nigeria. He currently runs his own IT firm in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an ardent believer in the Nigerian project and encourages all Nigerians to become actively involved in making Nigeria a better place. Ife is a registered member of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Epe Local Government, Lagos State. He was an active member of the UK branch of the party, holding the post of Youth Leader for the year 2010/2011.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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