President Muhammadu Buhari has attributed the rot in the health sector to the negligence of past leaders, especially the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari made this known while delivering his speech at the 58th Annual Delegates’ Meeting and scientific conference of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, with the theme, ‘Quality Healthcare: An Indicator of Good Governance’ yesterday in Abuja.
Represented by Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo, the president noted that former President Jonathan failed to seize the opportunity to invest in the health sector when the global price of crude oil was over $100 barrels per day.
According to him, the insurgency in the North- East, which started within the period of Jonathan’s tenure, further brought the health sector to its knees with the attendant impact on the level of immunisation and availability of medical personnel.
While noting that it was unlikely an improved investment in public health care at this time would make any remarkable and sufficient improvement in the sector, he maintained that paying for healthcare from budgets would not be able to improve the health sector unless other concerned parties and donor agencies augmented the government’s efforts. “It is no longer news that we inherited a troubled health care sector and the sector has been troubled for a long time.
As one of the manifestations of the severely low spending on infrastructure generally and in healthcare, in particular, I think that what we have seen through the years is a scandalously low level of funding for public health care in Nigeria.
“The level of public sector investment in healthcare in our recent past has, in no way, reflected our earnings – the high oil earnings – especially in the period between 2010 and 2015. That was when we earned the highest from oil prices,” he said. Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said there was a dire need to shift focus from secondary and tertiary institutions to primary healthcare centres in the country.
He added that the National Health Act would be fully implemented even as the budget would be ready in a few days. “I am confident that the Appropriation Bill that will come out in the next few days will have one percent coverage for primary health care.
This is key in addressing the health sector. “So, we hope that once the bill is signed into law, you will have the one percent and that is our commitment.” On his part, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the government was not only working towards curbing medical tourism but was also working hard in putting initiatives in place to overhaul the system.
He explained that government’s passion about improved health care was based upon which the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund is otherwise known as ‘Huwe’, and the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement programme for faster detection of infectious disease outbreaks, were implemented.