Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and his counterpart for Labour Party(LP), Mr. Peter Obi have given undertaken to ensure the implementation of the country’s health reform agenda.
PDP chieftain, Pedro Obaseki, who represented the party at the event said that the party’s candidate has expressly stated in his manifesto what he intends to do with regard to improvement of the health sector if elected.
“You heard the stakeholders at the meeting castigate the eight years of this administration and praising the past PDP government’s strides in the health sector. It is clear that under all the previous presidents of Nigeria who were PDP members, there were no preponderance of healthcare tourism, major hospitals were build by the PDP government, he said .
For instance, Obaseki said that current National Health Sector Act was enacted by the PDP Led administration in 2014.
He said that most of improvement recorded in the health sector were during PDP days in government . . When asked the state in specific terms what will be the expectations of Nigerians from the Atiku Abubakar presidency, he said: “All our plans for Nigerians as it pertains to health is contained the 5-point agenda ranging from Healthcare Provision Fund, Primary Healthcare to efforts to reduce the issue of medical tourism in the country.”
“He said that PDP is committed to ending the exodus highly skilled medical professionals
On his part, Rev. Chidi Jacob who represented Labour Party national chairman and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, at the meeting said the party believes that every aspect of the country’s development, including the healthcare systems depends on making a choice of a good leadership.
He said : “We are to make a commitment but I must say that the provisions in the national health Act are captured in the manifest of the LP and that is why as you can see some of the political parties are not here but we deemed necessary because we believe that health is wealth.
“For us to move this country from consumption to a productive one , we need a society that is educated and also healthy. He said that the stakeholders meeting on health is very important at this time of political transition”.
Only PDP and LP was represented at the event.
Chief Officer Vaccine Network, and Chairperson of the Healthcare Reform Foundation, coalition of civil society groups advocating who organised the forum, Mrs. Chika Ofor said the aim was to draw attention for need to ensure access to quality and affordable healthcare for the vulnerable in the society .
“We are trying to ensure that healthcare services reaches the less privileged in the society and seeing that every Nigerian has access to healthcare services despite their financial position.
She said the target of the forum was to get the commitment of the political parties on what they intend to do in the health sector if elected into office.
“We are here today to reiterate the fact that health system in Nigeria is not working well. Many Nigerians are dying, men, women, children and people are not accessing the services as they should. We don’t know who will win the election but we want to get the politicians commit to what they promise to do for the health sector so that we will collectively hold them accountable.
“So, we have come here today to reawaken all that are affected by this ugly situation. We have various stakeholders here, market women, traders, politicians and experts in the medical field.
“We also have different groups like National Council of Women Society and representatives of agricultural cooperatives. Political parties and theirs candidates have been called here today to decide on the way forward in the country’s health sector,” she said.
Ofor told journalist that the agenda of consultative meeting with the politicians and other stakeholders was to decide on how to best reposition the health sector.
“How do we make health services to be what it is supposed to be in Nigeria. We need to provide healthcare services for the children,” she said.
Speaking on the implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, Ofor said that though the policy was well intended, it has not been properly implemented to serve the purpose for which it was initiated.
According to Ofor, “Even the primary healthcare centres being managed and funded under the Basic Healthcare provision fund is not enough.
“So what we were are saying is that all hands must be on deck for the health insurance to work, adding that its implementation will not only make healthcare services affordable by easily accessible to Nigerians”.
Executive Director of the Health Sector Reform Foundation, Dr. Celestine Okorie, said the engagement the politicians was meant extract from them a commitment to implementing policies that will improve the healthcare systems in the country.