By Asmau Ahmad
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate has unveiled a four-point agenda that would ensure that the sector delivered improved healthcare to Nigerians.
At a news conference in Abuja alongside the Minister of State, Dr Tunji Alausa, Prof. Pate said that the ministry would improve the effectiveness of health governance in Nigeria and minimise political interference.
The media conference followed a three-day ministerial briefing, organised by the ministry on the realities in the health and social welfare sector.
The meeting was to chart a blueprint for Nigeria’s healthcare system.
According to Pate, there is a lot of potential for improvement in health care deliverables for Nigerians.
“The Federal Government, Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the state governments have a lot of responsibilities to deliver health to the people.
“We will improve the quality of governance and leadership of hospitals.
“We will appraise the leadership of tertiary hospitals and the teaching hospitals. We will strengthen the regulatory capacity of our institutions like NAFDAC.”
Prof. Pate, who said that the ministry would work with state governments to improve the regulatory function at the supply chain level, added that inclusion needed to be strengthened too.
He said that health could be the basis for reunifying the country because health was one issue that concerned all Nigerians.
The minister said that the second area of focus was improvement of population health outcomes so that diseases such as diphtheria, measles, vaccine preventable diseases, maternal and child health would be focused on.
He said, however, that changing the narrative depended on all Nigerians and was not dependent on the government or healthcare professionals alone.
“So how do we change that? It’s all of us collectively, families, communities, health workers, political leaders who will do that.
“So we have decided that in fact, we will make maternal deaths reportable. Make it visible.”
Pate added that Nigeria needed to prioritise spending for health and the quality of the spending.
He said that the third area of focus was medical industrialisation which was the value-chain of the sector and according to him, has not been attended to.
He added that 70 per cent of the nation’s pharmaceuticals are imported from countries that are just like Nigeria while Nigeria does not even produce its own vaccines.
“Almost 90 per cent or more of our medical devices are imported, yet we have unemployed youth.
Pate said that the fourth focus area was health security.
On this, he said that the aim was to ensure that when diseases broke or epidemics occurred, Nigeria would be prepared and able to effectively respond to the outbreaks, pandemics and humanitarian crises.
“Whether it is Lassa fever, diphtheria or meningitis, they will happen because we have left our health security very low.
“We would invest more to ensure that we strengthen our public health core capabilities to serve surveillance, to be able to respond to outbreaks sooner before they get out of hand because we did that with Ebola and with polio.
“We can be able to do that as a matter of our own national security and link it to the sub region, to Africa and also to global security,” Pate said.
On social welfare, he said that people lived through a life course from pre-conception, to early conception, through early childhood to adolescence to adulthood.