The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, says the problem with the nation’s tertiary health institutions is overcrowding and lack of proper funding.
The minister said this on Tuesday when he appeared before the Senate explaining the state of healthcare facilities in teaching hospitals.
Professor Adewole said the problem with the nation’s tertiary health institutions is overcrowding, not the poor quality of healthcare.
He also stressed that teaching hospitals are overburdened because of lack of proper funding and attention to primary healthcare.
According to the Minister, only 10% of Nigerians need to go to teaching hospitals, but that is not the case as Nigerians have no confidence in primary and secondary healthcare systems, thereby opting to go straight to tertiary hospitals which are only supposed to take care of complicated cases.
He also accused the state governments of abandoning healthcare to the Federal government, pointing out that 14 states are yet to show interest in the basic healthcare fund.
“Over the last couple of years, we have had a challenge. We can describe the health care as a pyramid, with Primary Health Care at the base, Secondary at middle and Tertiary at the top.
“Only 10% of Nigerians who require care would need to go to tertiary institutions.
“For them to function effectively, they depend on functional primary and secondary health care centres. If these two levels of care are functional, about 90% of ailments will be taken care of.
“For us in Nigeria, they represent the topmost and by design are expected to manage complex and complicated cases.
“We have 22 teaching hospitals in the country and 17 specialist hospitals under the direct body of the Federal Government. The teaching hospitals constitute the apex of health care in any country.
“We can compare it to a building — primary health as the foundation, the secondary as the wall and the tertiary as the roof.
“The problem we have is that the foundation is bad and the wall is weak and we are only concerned about the roof. If we invest in the Primary Health Care, a lot of people would not have a cause to go to the Tertiary,” he explained.
The Senate had earlier summoned Adewole to appear before it on Tuesday over what the Senate President Bukola Saraki described as the deteriorating conditions of facilities at teaching hospitals across the nation.
The Senators took turns to quiz the Minister on the state of healthcare infrastructure all over the country.
Below are some senators that quizzed the Health Minister and the questions asked:
“The area that worries me is that of the medical students who graduate from medical schools and have nowhere to do their houseman-ship. How do we make sure our medical students always get where to practice?” — Senator Sam Egwu.
“Do we still have sanitary inspectors, if so are they allowed to carry out their duties and are the CMD’s allowed to act independently?” — Senator Francis Alimikhena.
“What can be done about ‘brain drain’ amongst doctors and nurses which is affecting the efficiency of primary, secondary and tertiary hospital?” — Senator Gbenga Ashafa.
“Is there a way to exclude teaching hospitals, Secondary hospitals and primary hospitals from paying electricity bills? Would it improve the services of the hospitals?” — Senator Shehu Sani.
“UCH used to be one of the best hospitals but now it’s a caricature of what it used to be. Is there a programme where we bring our teaching hospitals to the standard it used to be so they stand out?” –Senator Olusola Adeyeye.
“How can we equip our hospitals to the standard that makes Nigerians travel out for treatment?” — Senator Victor Umeh.
“Since assumption of offfice, what have you done on the matter i met you on personality (N300m paid to the Federal Ministry of Health) during the Jonathan regime.”– Senator Kabir Marafa.
“Can you explain to Nigerians on how Lagos Teaching hospital independently had power without the interference of public power and how other states can tap into it.”– Senator Kabir Marafa