‘Buhari should reform, review health policies to boost care’



When the workers and management of any Industry work hand in hand without any friction, industrial harmony is achieved. Even if there are differences of opinion, if the same is sorted out in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence, the industrial harmony can be achieved.

From this it is clear that mutual cooperation, understanding job descriptions and limits, trust and confidence in other workers and in the management are attributes lacking in the health system in Nigeria. It is quite unfortunate and a matter of grave consequence that, the Allied Health workers like the nurses, laboratory scientists, pharmacists are not in alliance with the doctors who are supposedly the leader of the medical team.

This is a brunt that has developed over years and has now reached explosive levels at the detriment of our health system and even more detrimental to Nigerians needing medical care. Stakeholders in the health sector need to have a round table discussion which they approach with an open mind.

They need to sit and draw up protocols for the health sector. All input should be devoid of pride and selfish interests. Rules need to be made, lines drawn, there should be no blurs, all decisions should be black and white and no one should be asking for what is not their due. Like wanting promotions you are not qualified for and the likes. The length of stay at a job is not a certificate of qualification.

Yes, an improvement of already learned skills is achieved and of course, one is wiser in decision making than the younger generation but, continuing professional development cannot be waived and should be the most important qualifier for career advancement.

This subject matter doesn’t only open our eyes to the faults in our health system but also to that in the education sector as the kind of medical practitioners and health workers produced in our educational institutions today are to a large extent of poor quality; they can hardly compete with international counterparts. Everybody is probably assuming things should be the way they want it while some other people think otherwise.

It is the non-definition of due processes in government health institutions that is fuelling undue animosity and uproar between all parties involved, and depreciating the quality of our health care as time passes. Those who have been chosen to lead should also make lasting changes that benefit both patients and workers.

After all, if the leaders and management have been proactive and performing, majority of the allied health workers would be satisfied and won’t be going at loggerheads with the doctors or wanting to unseat the doctors in the management or leadership positions.

It is also an understatement that the health sector does need some drastic turnaround changes in infrastructure and policies on both administration and workers’ welfare.

It is horrifying that tertiary health providing institutions do not have running water in most wards, undergo a period of total darkness due to power failure on most nights, are the harbingers of voluptuous mosquitoes in a country that spends millions of naira on rolling back malaria, are highly understaffed so that, staff are overworked at meagre pays.

They are also underequipped with available infrastructure being overstretched and practically crumbling from age and or little or no maintenance. And there are still too few of them for a country with her population over a hundred and forty million. Talk less of the secondary and primary care hospitals.

The government in the past, used to seek medical care from indigenous hospitals because, these hospitals were well equipped and had highly qualified health care professionals. As things have deteriorated, they have then sought medical care outside. Nigeria has highly qualified medical practioners and healthcare workers both within and outside the country.

Those outside the country are in prestigious and reputable institutions doing wonderful things and those within the country have established highly equipped centres that provide quality health care. There is a need for re-integration of these people into our health system to re-energize it.

The new administration should encourage affiliations between privately established specialist care institutions like eye, kidney, cardiac, assisted reproductive technology, peadiatric centres, to mention a few, and the tertiary institutions to further improve the level, quality and diversity of available medical care.

The government should then use these facilities! If there then arises a need for any government official to seek medical care outside the country, they should ensure that on return, that facility which is lacking in our own health sector is established.

They should ensure the provision of water and electricity in these medical facilities and the management of these institutions must ensure proper maintenance of infrastructure.

This means that the government isn’t left out of this responsibility. It is the inadequacies of our health institutions, both in infrastructure and manpower that chase the people out of the country to seek medical care.

This grosses into significant money being taken out of our economy. So, let the government take charge, call all involved and work together to create a health sector that is deserving of international recognition. India is roping in significant economic growth from just medical tourism alone. Let them upgrade our medical facilities at all levels and build even more to accommodate the populace.

This will create thousands of jobs and prevent brain drain to a large extent. Health policies should be reviewed, reformed and new ones put into place, to make health care accessible and affordable to all.

The welfare of the workers should also be paramount, as well as avenues for professional improvement, that the quality of care rendered is untainted.

It is time we spent our own money into our own economy and encourage foreigners to also bring their money to us in return for unrivalled value.

*Prof. Oladapo Ashiru is the Joint Pioneer of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)/Test Tube Technology in Nigeria, Medical Director MART clinics and laboratories Maryland, Publisher Reproductive Health Magazine and Adjunct professor at the University of Illinois Chicago United States.

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