Nigeria Loses $2bn Yearly Due to Poor Healthcare

Winifred Oyo-Ita

Winifred Oyo-Ita

Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

The federal government has stated that Nigeria loses $2 billion yearly as a result of poor healthcare and expressed concern over incessant industrial crises in the health sector, saying “incessant strikes in public sector are counterproductive.”

The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, stated this in Jos, Plateau State capital, at the 54th annual scientific conference and workshop of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria in Jos with the theme: “Local vaccine formulation and production in Nigeria: Challenges, threats and opportunities.”

Oya-Ita, who was represented by the Director (Special Services) in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, James Olusoji, said dialogue remained the best option for the resolution of trade disputes.

She stated that Nigeria has been losing foreign exchange drain estimated at about $2 billion yearly, due to loss of confidence in the health system.

Oya-Ita also expressed concern over what she described as lack of teamwork in the health sector workplace, leading to the rivalry between medical doctors, pharmacists and other allied workers.

According to her, the federal government had directed chief executives to fully implement all approved schemes of service and circulars affecting the career progression and conditions of service of medical laboratory scientists and their establishments.

She said: “The directive was given in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice in the treatment of all staff in the public service of the federation in line with the intent of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I urge you all to always engage in dialogue in the resolution of issues with the management of your various workplaces, as incessant strikes in the public sector are counterproductive, especially in the health sector.

“There is the need to also for all healthcare professional medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses and researchers to work in harmony with trust and due respect for each other’s’ expertise in promoting the health of the patients seeking their services.”

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, represented by the Chief Medical Director of Jos University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Edmund Banwat, said the $2 billion annual loss by Nigeria was due to lack of confidence in the health sector.

He said a key area of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari included investing in its people health as a fundamental human right that should be enjoyed by every citizen.

Banwat said: “Nigeria has over the last decades, sadly fallen behind in many areas of human and social endeavour, be it infrastructure, development, energy and transportation development, food production, quality of education, and healthcare delivery.

“Industrial production and manufacturing also almost totally collapsed, with increasing dependence on importation and reliance on export of raw material Primary products. With regard to the health sector, Nigeria suffered foreign exchange drain of about $2 billion yearly, due to loss of confidence in the health sector system.

“Among many manufacturing facilities that also became moribund during past administrations was a government-owned Yellow fever vaccine production laboratory in Yaba, Lagos.”

According to him, the laboratory was being revived by the present administration in a public private partnership with a pharmaceutical firm to resume Yellow fever vaccine production and ensure self-sufficiency in few years.

He said the government was interested in reinvigorating the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency to deliver on its mandate to take healthcare to the grassroots, “especially since such investment in the past has been paltry.”

In his speech, National President of AMLSN, Dr. Bassey Enya Bassey, called on the Federal Government to properly regulate the nation’s healthcare practices to check quackery and unethical practices.

He said, “The need for proper regulation of the healthcare practices in any country cannot be overstressed, as an unregistered system will breed quackery and unwholesome practices that will adversely compromise Healthcare delivery.

“On this note, we appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, to, as a matter of public importance, reconstitute Boards of Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria and other health regulatory bodies so as to guarantee quality and regulated health services in the country.”

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