Within the past one year, government-owned hospitals in our dear country didn’t function optimally for a cumulative period of 5 months (July-Aug 2014; Nov 2014-Jan 2015). Many lives were lost to lack of access to health care services or mismanagement of cases by incompetent folks in some private hospitals (my uncle was victim). Some had to sell their valuables to be able to afford health care in private hospitals.
It’s election time. PDP hasn’t apologised to Nigerians and people adversely affected by the strikes (including me). They haven’t assured us with believable evidence that there won’t be a repeat between 2015 and 2019 if the party gets re-elected at the national level. Apart from setting up Yayale Ahmed Committee, the present/PDP administration has been unable to resolve the lingering health sector crisis over the past 5 years (for GEJ) and 16 years (for PDP).
In same vain, APC promised free health services for some categories of people, but hasn’t told us how they would solve the crisis in the health sector which has claimed many lives of innocent Nigerians. Or how would people be able to access good quality services with the current industrial disharmony between Drs and other health workers? Is the challenge not serious enough to be a key issue in this campaign? Could it be because APC-led Lagos State was unable to manage it well, when it purportedly sacked all Drs after weeks of strike in 2012? Or probably because APC Gov. Rauf Aregbesola is yet to pay salaries of health workers in Osun State since November 2014?
Why are Nigerians not asking pertinent questions in this regard? Why do GEJ and GMB supporters prefer to debate and fight daily over propaganda and conspiracy theories being propagated on regular intervals and focus less on the real issues that affect our lives? One of the greatest achievements of the present administration is the enactment of the National Health Act – the first policy framework that regulates practices in the health sector. Has any of the the leading parties (APC & PDP) shared with us their strategic implementation plan for this act if elected into the presidency or governorship positions? If no, would it be incorrect for one to believe that many politicians of both PDP and APC extractions, wittingly or unwittingly, are gradually killing the health sector?
Fellow Nigerians, some progress have been made in the health sector within the past two decades but we are still very far from where our health system deserve to be. Millions of people still die from highly preventable and curable health conditions like malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, child birth, etc. The work environment in hospitals has become too hostile and health workers no longer have job satisfaction. Many are moving to non-clinical jobs while others leave the country to practice elsewhere. Let’s put more pressure on our government especially states and LGAs to lead efforts for sustainable investments in health, resolve the crisis in the sector and strengthen the health system. Those who think they may not be affected should know that not all medical emergencies will keep one alive till s/he gets to overseas for care. Or is it an offense if Nigeria becomes renowned for providing quality and accessible health services to the citizens and becomes a destination for medical tourism?
May God continue to bless our dear country, Nigeria.