Nigeria needs to address Health sector challenges- Gowon

Gloria Essien, Abuja

Nigeria’s former President, General Yakubu Gowon says Nigeria needs to address the challenges in the health sector and return it to its former glory.
He was speaking as the chairman of the second National Health Summit and twenty fifth Common Wealth Medical Association Trienniel Conference, in Abuja.
Gen Gowon said there is the need for a complete turn around the health sector to curb the excessive deaths of Nigerians.
“In the twenty first century, why should a Nigerian woman die trying to bring forth life? Why should Nigerian doctors leave country in search of pastures that are sometimes not green? Why should Nigerian doctors die on the roads while traveling to write their professional examinations? All these and other questions require the attention of our leaders for a better health sector in Nigeria.” General Gowon said.
He added that he hopes that Nigeria builds modern and standard facilties in the country to end medical tournament.
In his address to the summit, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the minister of health, Dr Ehinare Osagie said that the Nigerian government takes the health of Nigerians seriously.
“It is definitely worthwhile to remind you all, that we health professionals, custodians of the health and wellbeing of Nigerians, are a very valuable segment of Nigeria’s Human Resource assets and must therefore be each others’ keepers. To avoid burnout and enhance capacity to perform optimally, we must take keen interest in our own health and well-being”. The President said. 
The president also said that the Diaspora Healthcare Initiative is another program that the government is testing, to scale up the capacity of the healthcare workforce by the transfer and exchange of cutting edge knowledge and skills, and also patient management expertise of Nigerian Diaspora workforce, to their colleagues at home.
“Many developing countries do this to acquire global best practices and we believe such interaction will build capacity, and impact on provision of care to patients”. The President added.
On his part, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Faduyile, said the summit is to seek ways of addressing issues affecting patients care in Nigeria.
He noted that for Nigeria to attain Universal Health Coverage, patients care must be made a priority.
“Universal health coverage is what we need to ensure accessible, affordable and effective health care delivery and out run our worsening health indices. We will not be doing Nigerians any good by embarking on another round of lamentation on the failure of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), but it has become imperative that as stakeholders we must realize our roles and take the bull by the horn. While we are not unfamiliar with the doctors responsible for the abysmal performance of this critical agency in the Nigeria health domain, it is sad to note that we have refused to learn from the practical examples availed us since the NHIS became operational.Currently so many states are already on the part of the failure as there exists fundamental inadequacy of the scheme by their refusal to involve key stakeholders reasonably in the conceptualization and implementation of the scheme”. Faduyile said.
In his Keynote address, the governor of Delta state, South South Nigeria, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, said the vision of the National Health Summit can transform the Nigerian health system.
He advised that patients centered care should be a model guiding medical practices in Nigeria.
He added that interpersonal communication is very important while dealing with patients.
Also speaking, the Governor of Nasarawa state, Mr. Abdullahi Sule, said that the Nigerian health system needs to opt its game.
Former Minister of health, Prince Julius Adelusi, urged Nigerian doctors to show more care and empathy while attending to patients.
The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Muhammed Sambo, said that the theme of the summit holds hope for Nigerian patients who are always at the mercy of healthcare providers.
Other stakeholders in the health sector who were at the conference joined in applauding the Nigerian Medical Association for realizing the need for patients care.
The theme of the 2nd National Health Summit is “Patients Centered Care”.
Bilkisu Pai