From Fred Ezeh and Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has advocated increased investment in health care sector as a way to getting the country ready for future disease outbreaks, epidemic or pandemic.
Fayemi feared that Nigeria will continue to loose its best hands to countries in the West if it fails to encourage more investment in the health sector, thus appealing to the striking Resident Doctors to reconsider their decision and give government more chances to address their concerns.
The Governor who spoke through his Commissioner for Health, Oyebanji Filani, at a one day roundtable dialogue on private sector intervention in health care in Nigeria held in Abuja, on Thursday, explained that Nigeria has experienced at least one outbreak per year in the last ten years and that requires more readiness.
Dr. Fayemi stressed that there is a significant relationship between the health, productivity and economic development of any given society, saying that the role of both private and public sectors in the provision of healthcare in Nigeria can not be overemphasized.
His words: “We will continue to demonstrate and show our interest in health sector because of the linkage between health, productivity and economic wellbeing. So, as a state we will continue to focus on that.
“In the last 10 years, Nigeria has experienced at least an outbreak per year. In Ekiti State for instance, we have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen our public health security. We have decentralised testing to 145 testing centres, the highest in the country, and improved our disease surveillance capacity to pick up early signals of possible outbreaks.
“There’s a strong economic rationale for investing in health. Good health boosts individual and household income, as well as a country’s income in different ways. Healthier adults are more productive and healthier, well-nourished children are more likely to go to school and remain in school, which in turn is linked to higher earnings in adulthood.
“Investing in health, brings immeasurable benefits to a nation, lifting many out of poverty and ensuring Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Ladies and gentlemen, strategic investment in health is the road to recovery.”
President, Association of General And Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria ( AGPMPN), Dr Iyke Odo, in his remarks admitted that the Nigerian health care system is weak and need to be treated.
He called on the government to support private sector health care system through the creation of health bank to ease assessment of loans with manageable interest.
“This gathering was put in place to fill the identified gaps. We have done a careful assessment of the Nigerian health care system and have discovered that our health system is weak, troubled and sick.
“The private health sector of Nigeria is big. Evidently, over 70 per cent of Nigerian’s health practitioners are from the private health sector. Unarguably, there’s no where in the world where health care delivery succeeds without the private sector championing it. But the private sector cannot champion a call that they don’t have the support.
“We have come to know that the biggest business of the government is taxation. But a government cannot depend on it and succeed except it empower its people to do good businesses in good environment. We are therefore, calling on government to understand that the private sector is the future of our health care system and need to be supported. We need a health bank, to support the health system.