Experts move to strengthen healthcare delivery
HOW to strengthen the healthcare sector in the southeast to enable it respond effectively to emergencies took the centre stage at the weekend, as medical experts drawn from various parts of the country gathered in Enugu.
The maiden forum, tagged, Southeast Health Summit, with the theme, “Achieving Universal Health Coverage and Healthy Lives,” put together by Health System Forum, Nigeria, which drew stakeholders from the five states of the zone, also identified absence of structures, inability to maintain existing health facilities, poor staffing and remunerations as some of the challenges facing the health sector in the zone.
The various speakers noted that the South East would continue to lag behind as far as it continues to build structures without systems and more hospitals while the existing ones are poorly maintained.
The forum also observed inadequate equipment or staff in the various states. Chairman, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Prof Jonathan Azubuike, who spoke on regulations for healthcare practitioners, stated that medical practitioners should conduct themselves in a manner befitting the profession.
He decried proliferation of hospitals by governments without putting corresponding facilities for effective healthcare in place. He stressed that the zone was replete with facilities that could not solve emergencies.
A Permanent Secretary in Imo State, Dr John Ihebereme, who further buttressed the issue, called attention to the model being practised in Jigawa State, where the state government had not committed resources to building new health facilities for some time now.
He said that government had rather over the years maintained and equipped existing healthcare facilities, stressing that the idea has serious impacted on the development of the health care system of the state. “They tried to optimise their existing health facilities by ensuring that they had adequate staff, they restructured their health under one roof (Primary Health) and they also embraced the district health system, which is called the consumer.
They are beginning to see a lot of improvement in health care even at the district level and things are moving as expected. So it is a significant story,” he said.
He stated that Imo State government had decided to build a specialist hospital in each of the local governments of the state following her belief that health was primary, adding that it was cheaper than rehabilitating existing structures which had gone terribly bad or was not in existence.
Executive Director of the Healthcare Development Agency in Abia State, Dr Chukwuemeka Oluoha, said that the state had taken steps to set up primary healthcare board to superintend her healthy activities, explaining that it was a prerequisite of the national health act. He therefore called on other states of the zone to emulate the Abia example.
He said with its realisation, the state was ready to receive grants and access funds from the National Healthcare Development Agency to boost her activities, stressing that healthcare system had been refocused in the state.
A national Programme Manager and Technical Adviser in the Ministry of Health, Dr Ibrahim Kana, had observed that Abia State by that effort was qualified to access as much as $5million from foreign partners to fund her health system and encouraged other states to follow suit.
A renowned Professor of Neurosurgery and Chief executive of Memfys Hospital for Neurosurgery, Enugu, Professor Samuel Ohaegbulam, spoke on the need for those in private practice to be focused, stressing that it was more beneficial to practise at a place than moving from place to place – whether private or government.