Across the world, many believe that the health of a nation is the wealth of the nation. Health professionals across many climes affirm this aphorism, emphasising that the health care of the citizenry ought to be the number one priority of every society and government.
Over the past decades, faith-based health institutions across the country have been the bedrock of the country’s healthcare delivery system.
Hospital facilities powered by the Christian Health Association Nigeria (CHAN) and their mission institutions (MIs) have largely been the country’s saving grace.
Every now and then, health institutions under CHAN come together to review their activities within a period in order to assess their performance, including their successes and failures, at a setting called a tribunal. They sit in judgement over their performance and, after a day-long session, they return a verdict on themselves.
Days ago, the Zone D chapter of CHAN, comprising Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Lagos and Delta states, converged on Our Lady of Apostles Conference Centre, Maryland, Lagos, to review their efforts over the past few months. Tagged the “3rd Tribunal,” it had the theme “The Role of Mission Institutions in Nigeria’s Healthcare Delivery System.”
At the session, participants expressed dissatisfaction with challenges they adjudged to be confronting mission hospitals in Nigeria, which prevent them from delivering optimal health care services.
The group’s members disclosed that they were largely being hindered through the non-recognition by government as a cradle of health care delivery agents in the country.
From reports presented by their member institutions across the states in the zone, the participants felt that now was the time for government to step up its collaborative effort towards ensuring that healthcare is made more accessible to indigent members of the society. They reminded both the federal and various state governments that mission hospitals remain undeniable promoters of grassroots health care delivery. They requested that governments at various levels should support them with health grants and subventions. Moreover, they underlined their need to have health staff seconded by the government to mission health facilities as an improved way of helping the people to access healthcare services.
Other concerns the tribunal raised were the shortage of staff at mission hospitals due to attrition, high cost of running the facilities.
Bob Ijioma, a member of the panel of judges on the occasion, commended the efforts of the MIs and appreciated the commitment of CHAN leadership to their efforts to sustain mission healthcare in Nigeria. He charged government to rise in support of mission hospitals across the country.
“CHAN and MIs can do more with the support of government and political leaders in our community,” he said, while imploring the business community and private individuals to support the MIs too.
Speaking on behalf of the Lagos State government, Mr. Oshoyomi Adebayo, a pharmacist attached to Lagos State Medical Store, and Mrs. Afolabi Bolanle, who represented the director, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, commended CHAN and various MIs in the zone and state in particular for their useful roles in assisting government to sustain health care within the area. They pleaded that all the presentations made on the occasion should be delivered to the appropriate quarters. The expressed hope that the Lagos State government would not relent in its support for mission health institutions.
Rev. Fr. Christopher Ogunnupebi, the chairman of CHAN, Zone D, told Daily Sun that the body was founded in 1973 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, the Christian Council of Nigeria and the Northern Christian Medical Advisory Council. “The body is an umbrella organisation for Nigeria’s 4,400 church-based health centres and hospitals, which are distributed across the country,” he said.
He recalled that CHAN provides up to 40 per cent of primary and secondary healthcare needs of the country.