Ehanire links high disease burden to weak primary healthcare system
•Summit to address anomalies in health sector holds March 24
Only four doctors are available to every 10,000 Nigerians, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed.
It added that mere 43 per cent of the citizenry have access to quality primary healthcare services, adding that 70 per cent of disease burden could be prevented and managed at primary health care.
THIS is even as the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday, blamed the high disease burden and frequent outbreaks in the country on weak primary healthcare system, which he observed reduces access to healthcare and “is responsible for needlessly high maternal and child mortality, debility, absenteeism from work and much suffering.”
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja, the minister pointed out that a functional PHC system, with strong programmes for health education and disease prevention, could take care of 70 per cent of Nigeria’s disease burden for improved productivity and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said the government had developed a 10-year strategy to re-imagine PHC with a four-point agenda for PHC revitalisation for achievement of universal health coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said: “Primary healthcare is the foundation of the entire health system. Its strength is crucial to the functioning of all other levels. To meaningfully improve quality and accessibility of healthcare in Nigeria as a whole, we must urgently and comprehensively reform our primary care system.”
To address the anomalies, the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the NPHCDA, is holding a Primary Health Care Summit on March 24 and 25 in Abuja.
Executive Director (ED)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, told journalists yesterday that: “Today, only approximately 43 per cent of Nigerians have access to quality primary healthcare services with only about four doctors available per 10,000 people, a fraction of the minimum rate recommended by the United Nations (UN) for basic health coverage. It is widely recognised that 70 per cent of disease burden can be prevented and managed at the PHC (Primary Health Care) level.”
Also, a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that for every 10,000 persons in Nigeria, there are four doctors available to treat or attend to them.
The global agency’s standard doctor-patient ratio is 1:600. However, Nigeria’s doctors to patients’ ratio of 4:10,000 contravenes the rule.
The Guardian observed that the unsavoury development had contributed immensely to the brain drain and other challenges besetting the nation’s health sector.
It is estimated that no fewer than 2,000 doctors leave Nigeria yearly, with at least 5,407 Nigerian trained medics currently working with the British National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
But Shuaib said the summit would transform the under-resourced and weak primary healthcare system in Nigeria by leveraging private sector, international agencies and government collaborations.
He stated that the event would assemble national leaders, top government officials and leading private sector players to present ambitious and attainable plans to reengineer the country’s PHC system by 2030.
Tagged “Reimagining PHC,” the programme is solutions-focused for improved PHC services nationwide.
The NPHCDA boss added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a sharp light on the global inequalities in health and access to care, and the health care system in Nigeria needs transformation, and PHC is the backbone.”
Shuaib, who is also a public health physician and epidemiologist, noted: “This launch is a call to join in the ambitious action to transform health in Nigeria for our and future generations. A fit-for-purpose PHC system is foundational to delivering universal health coverage, national health security and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in N