Nigeria at 62: NMA calls for improved healthcare management system

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WorldStage Newsonline–  The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called for an improvement in the healthcare management system to reverse the prevailing brain drain and enhance the healthcare system for Nigerians.

Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, Chairman, NMA Lagos Zone, made the call in a statement on Saturday in celebration of Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Anniversary.

Olowojebutu said that it was possible to build a nation where healthcare works for all irrespective of tribe, creed, religious and political affiliation.

“We still do not have the healthcare management system of our dreams.

 “Our current system is still plagued by strikes, unhealthy professional rivalry, inadequate facilities, poor working condition and the list goes on.

“It is even more worrisome that the present stochastic services have encouraged unprecedented brain drain.

“Many healthcare practitioners are religiously seeking greener pastures in climes where things work, where they can get better remuneration and fulfill their God-given aspirations,” he said.

He noted that past governments invested in the management of communicable diseases, however,  various complications resulting from the infection of Ebola, Lassa Fever, COVID-19 and Monkeypox affected the country.

“This is a pointer that as a nation we must have a strategic National Medical Disaster Plan that will help us to be more proactive than reactive,” he said.

According to him, it is also crucial to have a strategic Medical Mitigating Blueprint that alleviates the sufferings of citizens, especially the aged, suffering from non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

He noted that the cost of medications was presently expensive due to high import customs duties.

Olowojebutu added that health matters should be for altruistic purposes and not necessarily pecuniary interests as was the present case with the importation of drugs.

The chairman urged the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to become more responsive to its duty and start intensifying enlightenment on the new National Health Insurance Act (NHIA) in different Nigerian languages.

According to him, doing this will ensure access to healthcare for every Nigerian.

Besides, Olowojebutu said that the current executives of NMA Lagos would work on a three-pronged focal agenda on ‘The Lagos Doctor, Lagosians and Lagos Healthcare System’ to ensure a health system that works for everyone.

‘The import of this tripartite trajectory is that the welfare of Lagos Doctors would be top-notch and reasonably encouraging enough to keep their services.

“The Lagos people would be the cardinal focus of Lagos Healthcare system and there will be patriotic advocacy for the improvement of Lagos healthcare system through various public-private-partnership, particularly in semi urban and rural areas,” he said.

Olowojebutu appealed to the Lagos State Government to expedite action in creating a Public-Private Partnership policy (Operate and Manage Model) that would revitalise and stimulate all Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in rural areas of the state.

“This will go a long way in arresting the already decimated systems in these largely forgotten areas of Lagos State.

“We would like to state emphatically that we are altruistically ready for any partnership that will positively improve the health status of Nigerians, particularly Lagosians.

“We know the most laudable vehicle for attaining the Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria is through the National Health Insurance Act,” he said.

He lauded states that have domesticated the Act and encouraged others to join in domestication of the Act.

Olowojebutu also appealed to the Lagos State Health Management Authority to intensify efforts through deliberate partnerships with relevant stakeholders, particularly non-governmental organisations in encouraging Lagosians to enroll in the State’s Health Insurance Scheme (llera Eko).

He noted that health insurance schemes had proven to be the surest route to accessible healthcare facilities and patient management systems, even in developed nations.