AS PART OF the new health agenda for Nigerians in the second year of President Buhari Administration, Federal Government is to establish a Bank of Health (BoH) to enable private investors in healthcare access fund for the purpose.
Health Minister Professor Isaac Adewole disclosed this in Lagos at the weekend when he gave a report of his one year stewardship in the Ministry adding also, a directory of healthcare facilities is underway.
The Minister noted that the past year has been spent on developing the third National Health Policy and agenda on how to move the health sector beyond the present pointed out, “We are not unmindful of the fact that the health sector is faced with various challenges that need urgent fixing hence the new thinking of the Rapid Result Initiative (RRI) we earlier launched.
“However, government cannot do all of this alone and so we have decided to work with the private sector. The private sector has resources, discipline and efficiency”, said the Minister.
“And so, in year two of this administration, we want to partner with the private sector and we are also thinking of a Bank of Health (BoH) similar to Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture so that those who want to set up facilities can have access to resources.
“We believe that the one million dollars at least, that is estimated to leave Nigeria, because people go to India, now Ghana and even Benin Republic, we decided to put up a cancer centre to attract Nigerians away from Europe and America” said the Minister.
Adding, “There is absolutely no reason why Nigerians should go out; so we believe that working with the private sector, we would also put up a directory of the facilities in this country.
“We have set up a working committee with the Healthcare Foundation of Nigeria to publish a directory of health facilities, the types of services they can render and where to get them; we think this is very essential and then we will move on to the revitalisation of the Teaching Hospitals”.
Adewole recalled that in the first year of his administration, he was confronted with various challenges chief of which was poor healthcare indicators “which were not so good especially in the area of access of Nigerians to good healthcare and maternal and child health indices”.
According to the minister, “The health indicators were such that no one will be happy. Maternal Mortality were like you find in war torn countries; child mortality very bad, malaria was a major challenge, HIV, we have a problem; on Mother to Child Transmission of HIV, we are the largest contributors to Paediatric HIV in the world, doctors’ strike as doctors fight doctors, nurses fight doctors and then we still have to build trust as it appears Nigerians no longer have confidence in the health sector as our sector was better known for strike than for services”, said Adewole.
He however listed some interesting indicators he confronted to include: “the healthcare indicator for western Nigeria is just like you find in Europe and USA. But when you look at immunisation coverage for poor people, antenatal coverage for poor people, skilled birth attendants for poor people, contraceptives usage for poor/rural people, it remains poor.
“For example, 95% of educated urban Nigerians receive antenatal care, only 24.6% of poor rural people would access antenatal care.
“When you look at those who have skilled birth attendance delivery, 85% of rich urban Nigerians would have supervised delivery; they are likely to deliver well, their babies are likely to survive but only 5.7%poor rural people have supervised delivery. They are the ones who will die during labour. So we recognised quite clearly that we should develop programmes that would target poor rural people”, Said Adewole.
“So we decided to restructure the building blocks which premised on a new National Health Policy”.
“The new health policy” he observed, “is about resetting the image, the consciousness and the mind-set of people about the health sector.
“The new national Health Policy would accelerate the socio-economic development of Nigeria like it has done in other developed countries in the world that have attained improvement in their healthcare and socio-economic developments”.
He said in 2017, seven Tertiary centres which have been identified will have two functional cancer machines to boost treatment of many more Nigerians and improve the quality of lives of the people and this will be achieve through private sector partnership initiative.