Ex-Health Minister, Others Call For Funding, Decentralisation Of Health Sector

A former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has called for increase allocation to the nation’s health sector, urging medical doctors to be more involved in politics.

Adewole made the call at the opening ceremony of the 12th Biennial Delegate Meeting of the 2021 Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

He said: “Health policymakers have been under enormous pressure in recent years over concerns about financial sustainability and cost-containment.

“The resources available to any society are finite; still, emerging evidence is recasting health systems not as a drain on those resources, but as an opportunity to fast-track development by investing in the population’s health.

“The economic position of countries today owes much to the extent to which they could achieve better health, historically.

“The evidence is clear; a healthy population, including healthy older people, can substantially contribute to the economy.

“We hosted the Abuja meeting of 2001, but have fallen short of the benchmark of 15 per cent at the Federal and State levels.”

Adewole, also said that there was need for involvement of more medical doctors in the nation’s politics, to ensure more representation, because they understand health issues.

“If there are doctors in National Assembly, they will understand why they must vote more money into the sector.

“From my personal experience when the President of the Senate was a doctor, he contributed significantly to the implementation of the basic healthcare provision fund.

“It would have been impossible if he was not a doctor.

“Doctors understand the issues and they will appropriately relate well with members of the profession,” he said.

Also, Prof. Olayinka Omigbodun, the Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, said there was a need to decentralise the health sector.

Omigbodun said that the three tiers of the health sector could be served by health personnels without being confined to the Federal, State or Local Government levels.

She said that health sector should be taken at the periphery for the people and by the people as being done in the developed countries.

“Our healthcare delivery system needs a total overhauling, for example the teaching hospitals are under the Federal Government, the General Hospitals are under the state government and then, the primary healthcare, which is grassroots, are under the local government.

“At those three tiers, the healthcare delivery are being supervised by these three tiers and that is not going to work.

“Because, you need to plan for the health of the people looking at each state or community within that confined area as a whole, not as scattered.

“So, there must be a health planning team for each state or community that looks at the health of that geographical entity.

“It should be in such a way that when needs assessment of the place is done, they will be able to identify the type of health facilities needed, as well as the kind of health personnel,” she said.

Omigbodun said the country should ensure that brain drain stopped, because the best of its citizens are admitted into medical profession, of which the products were being absorbed by other countries of the world.

She identified Constitutional review as germane to restructuring the nation’s health sector.

In his address, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director, UCH, said a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed by the hospital with the Oyo State Government to improve health sector at the state level.

“This is a situation whereby consultants from the hospital will go to some of the hospitals in Oyo State, both within Ibadan and outside, to consult and treat patients.

“This will bridge the human capital resources lacking in Oyo State health sector and maximising the potential of doctors in UCH.

“Not only that, Oyo State will be sending its personnel for training at UCH at no cost to the state government.

“This will take off soon, we are just waiting for COVID-19 to wear off,” he said.

In his remarks, Dr Victor Makanjuola, the incoming National President of MDCAN, and the Chairman Local Organising Committee, said the focus of the event was to deliberate on the challenges facing the health sector and proffer solutions for way forward.

Makanjuola saidd that theme of the event: “Strengthening the Health System Amidst Dwindling Resources” was to look for ways to meet this challenge amidst insecurity and poor welfare for medical practitioners.

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