Vanguard (Lagos)

1 January 2013

Nigeria: New Year, Old Expectations in Healthcare

IT'S a new year, and at times like this, health is always a big issue for a developing country such as Nigeria.

Admitting that trouble exists in Nigeria's house of health would be a big step in the right direction.

This year, a significant and decisive shift is desired. One expects prioritisation of health.

With a health sector that is already in crisis, top on the list of expectations in 2013, is declaration of an emergency in key areas such as maternal health, as well as child and infant survival.

As long as Nigerian women and children continue to die of preventable and treatable causes, the nation will not progress. It will not develop, It will not grow.

Hence issues of maternal and infant/child mortality should be more aggressively tackled even if the nation may not attain the Millennium development Goals, MDGs, 4 & 5 by 2015.

There must be more realistic allocation of resources (minimum of 15 percent of the national budget) and better execution of health projects. Comatose initiatives such as the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS must be repackaged and made more meaningful. The near-comatose Primary Health Care system should be revived.

One expects a unified and more coordinated health sector that has the patient as its primary focus.

One expects to see less emphasis on age-long issues that punctuate the sector with health workers' strikes, unrest and general crisis.

Healthcare delivery is teamwork so one expects to see doctors, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory scientists and other stakeholders mend fences and work as a team. One expects to go to the hospital and obtain the desired attention and care.

One expects that India will become less like the promised land for Nigerians seeking reliable healthcare, even though, quite often, the solution is not even there.One expects to go to the healthfacility and not wait an eternity to be attended to by the doctor. a real struggle to get your doctor to properly listen to your concerns.

It is the hope of many this year, that the hospital will, once again, be considered the best place to be when one falls ill.

It goes without saying that Nigerians have a right to expect the best from the health industry this year. Surely, that's not asking for too much? It's a new year, but the expectations are old.

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