By Austin Ejenike
The Health sector remains an important aspect of any nation since its wellbeing and economy depend largely on how healthy the workforce is, including those of the entire population.
But, the worsening security situation and the poor state of the country’s economy have impacted negatively on the health sector.
The negligence of the health sector over the years has resulted in the inability of the sector to boost of basic health facilities and this situation has forced many Nigerians to seek medical treatment abroad.
But this medical tourism is the preserve of the wealthy elites, while the rural populace finds it difficult to access public and private healthcare facilities in the country due to poverty and deprivation.
Although Nigeria appears to be striving to achieve the global health standards, which depend on the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and the health system is still lopsided due to certain constraints.
One of such challenges is the lack of adequate health infrastructure, which is attributable to the current economic situation in the country. Unfortunately, this has affected the structure and functions of the Nigerian healthcare delivery system.
This situation has resulted in high cost of drugs and some people are seeking alternative means of handling their health conditions, while some others use sub-standard or counterfeit drugs.
This, no doubt, will negatively affect the health of many Nigerians and lead substantially to poor health indices of the country.
Due to the high cost of orthodox medicine, many people are now resorting to self-medication and the use of traditional or local herbs has been on the increase.
Presently, the health sector suffers from lack of adequate funding, which is the major driving force to improve service delivery. The funds allocated to the health sector are used for infrastructural development, purchase of drugs, medical equipment and the payment of auxiliary workers.
Over the years the funding of the health sector has been dwindling and this development is not helpful. For instance, there has been a sharp reduction in the budgetary allocation to the health sector from N258bn in 2016 to 51bn in 2017.
The sector is also experiencing poor staff welfare and motivation, which have been responsible for the shutdown of many public health institutions due to several strike actions over the years.
It is also on record that recently in Edo State, doctors and some medical staff of a federal medical centre had to protest the kidnap of their director. The hospital was shutdown for days or weeks before the director was rescued.
These challenges have further affected the smooth operation of the health sector and the number of patients, who patronize the health institutions have reduced drastically. More patients now prefer to visit the few teaching hospitals for ailments that can be handled at community health centres.
While the nation is hopeful that the present state of the economy will improve soon and the security situation tackled decisively as promised by the government, the new health minister should strive to improve on the facilities at the primary and secondary segments of the health sector and save the number of lives that are lost daily due to medical issues that could be handled at that level in our rural communities.
-Sep 12, 2019 @17:21 GMT |