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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Health Services in Nigeria - Time to Walk the Talk


Dr. Femi Ogunyemi, FRCA, FWACS, is a member of the British Pain Society, American Pain Society, the North American Neuromodulation Society and the Aerospace Medical Association. He is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management and a Fellow in Pain Medicine from Emory University.

Most people agree that there has been improvements in certain aspects of life in Nigeria; IT and communications for example. As we wait for stable and constant electricity, attention is now being drawn to healthcare.
Newspapers and radio commentaries these days are intensifying age old questions about health services for Nigerians. The FMOH Ministerial Committee on tertiary services is busy working on its mandated objectives. The various State Commissioners are busy reevaluating, reappraising and updating their services, some with more apparent success than others, but all with the intent of improving the health of Nigerians. Simultaneously, different groups are lamenting the shortage of specialists like anaesthetists, eye doctors, pain doctors, oncologists……

A Nigerian female doctor heads the O & G dept. of one of the best private hospitals in Dubai. The Medical Director of a major London hospital is a Nigerian. Nigerians head many departments across the United states. These doctors did not achieve these high positions of leadership and responsibility by political affiliation, by nepotism or old boy networks, but by merit and hard work in excess of their “local” peers. They have risen above prejudices of race, colour, and culture.
How can Nigeria be lagging behind in health infrastructure and indices, with many of its doctors in high positions in developed countries?
Whilst sorting some old documents a few days ago, I discovered emails from 1999. I was a Consultant at Newham Hospital and had asked some Nigerian friends and colleagues about “how to improve healthcare in Nigeria”.

Here are four responses:
“We need good communication. The telephone system is currently unreliable and ancient. We need to educate the general public about basic need for healthcare. Our people need a better access to quality healthcare which is currently available to the rich. I think we need to develop a public emergency care service…and retrain the current healthcare worker. We need to regulate the pharmaceutical industry and get rid of quacks!”

Dr WW is a successful plastic surgeon in the USA.
“ 1. Improving the basic infrastructure i.e. water supply, roads, electricity and food supply.
2. Health education on nutrition, basic hygiene, vaccinations, etc.
3. Universally accessible healthcare which includes being affordable to all, services within easy reach of all and provision of services the people need.
4..Upgrading of facilities at all levels of healthcare.
5. Improving health services staff morale through adequate remuneration for improved performance and relevant job training.
6. Food subsidies especially for families with young children and possible all below the poverty line.”
DR XX is a Consultant Psychiatrist just outside London!
“…we need to start recruiting the right people from abroad and within the country to sit down together and brainstorm.. This will satisfy both parties as those out of the country are not likely to know what is reality, whilst those in the country are likely to be out of touch with how things are done (outside Nigeria).

The important thing to remember is that the major thing needed will be MONEY.”
Dr KB is a renowned pathologist in the UK.

“From my layman’s POV it all boils down to funding: a lot of churches now operate maternity wards because people can scarcely afford to go to hospitals; private is expensive and at state hospitals you’re never sure if they are going on some industrial action or something. I guess in a place like Saudi where money is no problem healthcare is neat. So I think the Govt.’s got to re-assess her priorities…..”
Mr RJ was a Church Minister in Nigeria but has since relocated his Church to the UK.
Food for thought, 14 years ago.

Yes, healthcare is in the spotlight once again. Let us hope and pray that, this time, the attention may gain some traction.

Source: Vanguard

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