The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewale, has advocated for free medical services in the country so as to boost production.
The Minister also noted that the plan is also aimed at freeing the nation from treatable diseases, as FG plans to establish 10,000 Primary Health Centres.
Adewale made the disclosure at Beji in Niger State, while flagging off ‘Pilot Functional Focal Primary Health Care Centre’ and Free Surgery Festival between Graceland Global Projects Limited with Niger State government in the 25 local governments in the state.
He attributed the effect of some diseases to poverty and lack of access to quick, effective medical services especially in the rural areas of the country and applauded the state governor for the foresight, commitment and caring for recognizing the value of health to the development of the people in the state.
The Minister promised to collaborate with the Niger State government in the areas of human and material support to ensure the success of the entire program in the state.
The Niger State Governor, Mr Abubakar Sani Bello, said it was part of his fulfilment for his political campaign promise to the people of the area assuring to health services accessible, affordable and sustainable in the state .
Gov. Bello further said that the government plans to establish a functional focal primary health care center in each of the 274 wards and essential health services to World Health Organisation (WHO) standard in all the 25 local governments in the state to improve the quality of lives of the people.
The Commissioner of Health and Hospital Services, Dr Mustapha Mohammed Jibril stated that about 170 health workers has been employed to replace the retirees and vacancies.
Jibril further said that two doctors were undergoing disciplinary actions over negligence that caused the death of patients to serve as deterrent to others.
He assured of the government’s commitment to revitalize the primary health care system in the state.
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, says the government is focusing on a radical restructuring of the healthcare system to ensure that all Nigerians have access to good healthcare.
Professor Adewole told Channels Television on Friday that regulations would also be strengthened.
“One of the things we want to do is to restructure the regulation,” he said, emphasising that there were reflections of corruption within the system.
“We are prepared to tackle it.
“We are looking at a situation where every Nigerian will be able to access healthcare within five kilometre radius but what that implies is that we need to do a radical restructuring of the health system.
“In the last four months, we decided to do a diagnosis and developed a proposal to address universal health coverage and we submitted it to the President who sent it for external review and the reviewers turned in positive report on this. He asked us to do a few things to adjust it and make sure that we develop a sustainable structure for this new health plan.
“Initially our plan was to target about 43 million Nigerians but the Vice President said it was not enough,” the Minister stated.
Pro-poor Health System
He quoted the Vice President as saying that “an administration that is committed to targeting poor people must look beyond 43 million people”.
“If you look at the World Bank indicators, about 80 to 100 million Nigerians are considered as poor so a health system that will be pro-poor should target about 100 million people.
“We went back to the drawing board and came out with this Primary Healthcare System per political ward. The political ward comprises of 10,000 people and when we target 10,000 Primary Health Centres, we are looking at 100 million people,” Professor Adewole explained.
He also stated that the government was looking at making health insurance compulsory to ensure that people buy into the scheme, assuring Nigerians that the number of ailments that the scheme would cover would increase as more persons buy into it.
Padded Health Ministry’s Budget
On the budget of the ministry that was said to have been padded, the Minister said he could not defend the budget at the National Assembly because the figures he saw did not reflect the thinking of the present administration.
“What I was presented with on the floor of the National Assembly was at variance with what we submitted. I think some errors were committed somewhere along the line and this had been admitted by quite a number of people.
“This administration is committed to addressing the imbalance and inequity within the health system and we are quite committed to putting things right.
“In preparing the budget, we were quite conscious of the promise that the party made to Nigerians. We wanted to reposition the health of Nigerians and place public health at the forefront of our health agenda,” he stressed.
Pointing out the alterations he may have noticed, he said that the budget presented to the National Assembly had no allocation made to public health and family health.
“The implication is that we will not be able to buy vaccine for our children or buy anti-retroviral drugs,” he stated.
The Minister further told Channels Television that it was difficult to determine those that were responsible for the alteration, but assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised that “those who did it would be flushed out and dealt with. I am sure that is ongoing”.
Giving his opinion on why provision should be made for vaccines in the budget, Professor Adewole said “vaccines are necessities with economic importance. For each dollar that you invest in vaccine your get about $16 in return”.
He said that since the United State was withdrawing from the funding of anti-retroviral drugs, the Nigerian government is committing some funds to the business, increasing funding and getting better commitment.
“That is why for the first time in three years we are recommending funding of anti-retroviral medication and procurement of test kits.
“We cannot put you on anti-retroviral therapy if you have not been confirmed to be HIV positive.
“We are part of an initiative called 90:90:90. Between now and 2020 we plan to test 90 per cent of Nigerians and to ensure that 90 per cent of those that tested positive are placed on anti-retroviral to help ensure that 90 per cent of those on anti-retroviral drugs witness viral suppression,” he explained, saying that the suppression technically means that the patient is ‘cured’.
“That does not imply that it is completely gone but it is a proxy of how effective the therapy has been,” the Minister stressed.
On medical tourism, the Minister said that about one million dollars was estimated to be involved on a yearly basis, a situation he said drains Nigeria’s resources.
He said that the government was looking at medical tourism as an isolated case and the repositioning of the entire system in a way the nation would get value.
The Health Minister also decried some practices by some persons in the sector, which he said were quite suspicious.
“As a minister, I sign some of these request for funding and yesterday (Thursday) I made a pronouncement that under our beat, we will not allow Nigeria’s resources to be used for cases that could be treated in Nigeria.”
He gave instances of requests that had been submitted to his ministry, with outrageous figures that were far beyond the cost of treating a particular ailment in Nigeria.
He told Channels Television that he had received a request for 10 million Naira for an ailment that could be treated in Nigeria for 150,000 Naira.
To address the issue, the Minister said that he was pushing for a policy that would ensure that before payment would be made for certain ailments, a referral letter from a hospital in Nigeria would be required, indicating that such ailment could not be treated in Nigeria.
He emphasised that the government would not allow such corrupt practices to continue.
Asked when Nigerians would begin to feel the impact of the government efforts to revitalise the health sector, he said that the government would revitalise 50 per cent of the Primary Health Centres in 2016
The Kaduna State Government has embarked on the construction and equipping of primary health centres in each of its 255 wards to boost healthcare service delivery.
The State’s Commissioner for Health, Professor Jonathan Nok, told reporters at the 11th Kaduna State Council on Health meeting in the capital that the construction of primary health centres were part of plans to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
Professor Nok said that the provision would also strengthen routine immunisation of children in the state, especially in the rural communities.
He also explained that free medical services for pregnant women and children below five years had been strengthened, to achieve the desired result.
The meeting had in attendance health workers from the 23 Local Government Areas in the state, stakeholders in the sector, representatives of World Health Organisation (UNICEF) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) among others.
“The present administration in Kaduna State recognises health as an important public good, and has also identified it as one of the priority areas,” the Commissioner stated.
Some stakeholders in the health sector were of the view that maternal health had remarkably improved in the state, compared to what the situation was some years ago when many maternal deaths were recorded.
According statistics obtained from the state Ministry of Health, Kaduna State records about 100,000 avoidable deaths annually, due to poor health care services.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has vowed to arrest parents who refuse to send their children to school. He also threatened to sanction any religious leader that preaches against western education.
Speaking during a town hall meeting with the people of Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone on Saturday, Governor El-Rufai noted that the north was educationally backward, because most parents had refused to allow their children to go to school and acquire western education.
The Governor stated that, with the measures being put in place by his administration to provide free tuition fees, free meals, free uniforms and qualitative infrastructure in public schools, parents have no excuse not to educate their children.
Governor El-Rufai also announced plans by his administration to build 225 primary health centres, 23 hospitals and six general hospitals across the state.
He further said that the security situation in the state had improved in the last four months due to the collaborative efforts of the state government and security agencies.
In separate interviews, however, the Leader of the State Chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Adamu Ango and that of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in the state, Audu Amba, appealed to the Governor to clear the over four months salary being owed primary school teachers and other civil servants, who are yet to be paid after their verification.
They also assured their unflinching support to the government and asked for similar treatment for their members.
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday again reiterated that no fresh case of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease has been found in the State or any part of the country.
According to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. (Mrs) Yewande Adeshina, none of the persons said to have come in contact with the late Liberian victim of the Ebola Virus Disease, Mr Pat Sawyer, has manifested unusual body temperature or any other symptom of the dreaded virus.
She explained that all the 59 persons who were in close contact with the deceased Liberian in Nigeria are hale and hearty and have not exhibited any unusual symptoms, just as there has been no case of the dreaded disease from the country’s borders.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information, Lateef Ibirogba, has advised Lagosians to be wary of the activities of fraudsters who are making spurious claims about their ability to provide cure for the Ebola Virus Disease, urging them to always contact health providers to report unusual feelings noticed.
He cautioned the people to desist from sending panicky text messages round about the Ebola Disease that could heighten tension and create anxiety.
He also called on those who want to make cheap money from the case to desist from their strange claims of cure for the disease lest they run afoul of the law, as only medical solutions are known to be appropriate for the disease.
He reminded residents of the state to make use of the emergency phone numbers: 08023169485, 08033086660, 08033065303, 08055281442 and 08055329229 provided to contact health authorities in case anyone with observed symptoms of the Ebola disease is noticed.
The Commissioner further advised residents to observe the highest level of personal environmental hygiene, adding that they should visit hospitals or Primary Health Centres nearest to them to report strange feelings noticed.