Vice President (Prof) Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has declared that quality and affordable healthcare are central to Nigeria’s development.
The Vice President who stated this at the inauguration of the Health Sector Reform Committee recently noted that “a society is probably only as prosperous, developed and happy as its healthcare system which is central to any meaningful development planning. Consequently, there must be a plan to improve access to quality, reliable, functional and affordable healthcare for citizens”.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari had in several public statements, made it clear that a modern virile and people-centric healthcare system was fundamental to his vision for the socio-economic growth of Nigeria.
He stated further that “the current reality is that the Nigerian health sector still carries some critical challenges, which have resulted in sub-optimal outcomes, when compared especially with healthcare systems in more developed jurisdictions of the world”.
Osinbajo attributed this to a variety of factors, including fragmentation of health service delivery; insufficient healthcare financing; inadequate motivation/poor distribution of health workers; inadequate infrastructure /equipment and relatively low private sector participation.
As a result, he stated that these factors have precipitated significant revenue loss due to growing medical tourism and even the loss of Nigeria’s trained personnel which is a frightening phenomenon even now.
He maintained that the government has the primary responsibility to address the issues and to put in place the structures and arrangements necessary to boost the efficiency of the healthcare ecosystem; improve healthcare delivery, stem the brain-drain of the country’s health personnel and reduce the pressure which Nigeria currently has on her foreign reserves on account of medical tourism.
It was for this that he said, “Mr. President approved the establishment of this Health Reform Committee to commence the development and implementation of a wide-ranging Health Sector Reform Programme for the country”.
The Vice President recalled that there have been various attempts in the past to reform the healthcare system in Nigeria and that the present attempt began with the commissioning of a Diagnostic Needs Assessment (DNA) of the sector.
“Subsequently, the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) at its meeting of April 12, 2019, approved the appointment of consultants to carry out the assignment, which involved a review of previous reform efforts in the sector, as well as field visits to 55 Tertiary Health Institutions across the country and some selected sub-regional health institutions.
“It is also important to mention that a series of stakeholder consultations were carried out with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), health unions and key stakeholders in the sector. The report of that comprehensive effort has brought us to where we are today”, he said.
He said as mandated by Mr. President, the Health Sector Reform Committee is tasked with the crucial role of reviewing the reports and steering the direction of the needed reforms.
While noting the multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary participation required to execute the task, he assured to bring aboard some of the important technical resource persons provided by the partners and solid representation from the Committee.
The 27-member Committee headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has membership drawn from critical stakeholders in the health sector, amongst them are the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa,the Minister of Health, Dr. Dr. Osagie Ehanire,representative of the World Health Organisation(WHO) and Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex A. Okoh.