Nigeria Calls for Global Partnership in Developing Health Sector

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Martins Ifijeh
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has called for a broad based partnership to fast-track the country’s effort to reposition the healthcare system in Nigeria.

Adewole, who spoke at a side event organised by Merck Pharmaceutical Company at the ongoing 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) lamented that medical tourism has been a drain on the country’s resources and the Federal Ministry of Health was making efforts to reverse the trend.

According to Adewole, a quick diagnosis and assessment of the issues that have brought the healthcare delivery in the country to such a state revealed nonfunctional Public Health Centres (PHCs), insufficiently equipped secondary and tertiary health institutions, among others, and these have progressively eroded the confidence of the public in the health sector.

“In view of the discovery, the government has embarked on a programme of reviving 10,000 PHCs which would provide free access to quality care to about 100 million Nigerians, with a sound referral system in place.In addition, the Government is setting up community ownership system to get the buy in of the beneficiary communities and hope to gradually restore the confidence of the people in the system.

“However, at the secondary and tertiary levels, Nigeria needs collaboration especially in providing quality care on cancer, renal and cardiac diseases, which constitute the three main areas which account for medical tourism,” Adewole said.

He further noted that with the anti-corruption posture of President Muhammadu Buhari, the business climate in Nigeria was improving and has become safer to invest in Nigeria.

He therefore promised would-be collaborators that his ministry would be open, transparent, accountable and would make judicious use of funds.

He noted that the country was willing to partner with Merck to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases and reduce the quantity of fake drugs in the country.

Earlier, the President of Merck, Stefan Oschmann, in his opening remarks said his organisation had been working on improving the quality of lives worldwide, but has been more involved in the eradication of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and specifically, Schistosomiasis, was already receiving attention in Nigeria. Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by flat parasitic worms that live in certain freshwater.

He said combatting NTDs requires research, education and awareness creation and therefore called on all endemic states to integrate NTDs into national health agenda, while his organisation explores other areas of collaboration.