Ikeja - The President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Dr Osahon
Enabulele has attributed the low health indices in the country to lack
of proper infrastructural development and proper governance.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the low health indices
had been in existence since 1960 and efforts were being made to change
Enabulele added that the lack of political commitment to health care
was also responsible for the extreme situations in the health sector.
He noted that less than 7 per cent was allotted to the health sector
in the 2013 budget as against the minimum of 15 per cent agreed on by
African heads of governments in 2001.
"It is beyond voting a budget for health. You can vote a budget for
health and the next time you have a problem you are flying the next
available plane out of the country, what have you done?
"You have driven despondency amongst your people in the available
health care facilities, in the utilisation of the health resource
persons within those environments and you have increasingly a
degradation of those facilities, because nobody is using them
"You have a situation where eventually the statistics starts going
down, because these people who can no longer have confidence in those
facilities as a result of poor political commitment, will resort to
quacks, with all the attendant implication of morbidity
and mortality and of course reduction in other health indices.
"The countries that our politicians run to abroad are countries that
have understood the nexus between health and development, the nexus
between investment in health care facilities, health care infrastructure
and the growth and development of their people
and the growth and development of their economy.”
Enebulele said that the absence of a regulatory framework in the
health sector also contributed to the low health indices, noting that
people just operated as they liked in some instances.
He said, however, that if the National Health Bill was passed, it
would regulate and ensure appropriate management of the health
environment in Nigeria.
"There is a strong nexus between health and development, there is a
strong nexus between healthy and socio-economic and political
The NMA president added that another challenge was the inability to
maximise potentials saying that information communication technology had
a major role to play in enhancing Nigeria’s health environment.
"This can be useful in the rural communities to improve access to
health care systems through the use of electronic health and mobile
health as it happens in other countries.”
Enebulele also said that the poor state of the secondary and primary
health care facilities was also a major challenge in the heath sector.
"They are deploying less than 6 per cent of their potentials,
attending to less than 10 per cent of the disease burden in Nigeria.
"And that has meant in addition to the dislocated referral system, a
situation where teaching hospitals now are just attending to those
primary care issues, malaria, typhoid, and all what not being the major
preoccupation of most of the tertiary hospitals.
"We are unable to move to the next level of care, which operates in other developed economies.
"So the poor primary health care development, the poor secondary
health care development, which interestingly the National Health Bill
seeks to of course correct, through appropriate allocation of resources
to the primary health care system is something
that we must think about.
"And of course hope that with a strengthened referral system, such
that you move from the primary to the secondary to the tertiary health
care levels, Nigeria will have a more organised healthcare system.”
Enabulele said that the first National Health Summit which would be
held in Asaba from Jan. 20 to Jan. 27 would seek to address the issues
of low health indices, among other issues.
He added that these issues would be subsequently followed up to
ensure that government and all stakeholders played their roles in
ensuring an improved health care sector.
"We have a strategy and that is why we are bringing policymakers,
legislators to the summit to also have a very firm appreciation of some
of the issues, challenges and proposals, so that when it comes to their
table either at executive level or at the legislative
level, they do not become strangers to the proposals.’’
The NMA president said that in spite of the challenging times,
Nigerian medical practitioners would ensure proper orientation within
the health care environment to establish the fact that the
responsibility of giving care was a sacred one.
He said that the eight-month old new executive body of the NMA had
created more than 80 committees to address some of the challenges in the
"We are going to follow it up from one community to another. Be it
the issue of clinical governance, leadership or management of health
"We have committees that that we have charged with these responsibilities.”