Primary Healthcare Data

From 1960 through to 1980 before The National Basic Health Services Scheme (NBHSS) was initiated with Primary Health Care (PHC) as the cornerstone, there was no strong focus on health systems development. Policy makers and political actors made efforts to establish and expand health-care infrastructures with more emphasis placed on curative medicine rather than preventive medicine.

In 1985 when Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti was appointed the Minister of Health he adopted PHC in 52 local government areas as models based on Alma Ata Declaration of 1978. Furthermore, Nigeria’s first comprehensive national health policy based on PHC was launched in 1988.

Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti from 1986-1990 expanded PHC to all local governments, achieved universal child immunization of over 80%, and devolved responsibility for PHC to local government areas, placed emphasis on preventive medicine and health-care services at the grass root, ensured exclusive breast feeding practice, introduced free immunization to children, encouraged the use of oral rehydration therapy by nursing mothers, made compulsory the recording of maternal deaths, and encouraged continuous nationwide vaccination and pioneered effective HIV/AIDS campaign. In 1992, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) was established to ensure that the PHC agenda is continued and sustained.

Currently PHC facilities in Nigeria lack the capacity to provide essential health-care services, in addition to having issues such as inadequately trained staffing, archaic equipment, poor national and local distribution of health workers, poor quality of health-care services, poor condition of infrastructure, and lack of essential drug supply. The establishment of NPHCDA and the 30,000 PHC facilities across Nigeria provide an opportunity for the effective implementation of PHC in Nigeria.

The Country Director, PharmAccess Foundation, Njide Ndili has stated that despite having about 30,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across Nigeria, only about 20 per cent functions per time, thereby disenfranchising many Nigerians of accessible healthcare services.

The Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman, expressed the need for digital intervention in the health sector, adding that the invention of technology will enhance data gathering to stimulate accessible healthcare services in Nigeria.

According to the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index of 2018, Nigeria is seventh worst in the world in basic health, health infrastructure and preventative care, just ahead of war-torn Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This picture of our healthcare is hard to reconcile with Nigeria’s current status as Africa’s largest economy.

Over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s 195 million people live in rural areas with little or no access to primary healthcare. This means that most people receive poor treatment or no treatment at all for road traffic accidents, malaria, HIV, chest infections, heart disease, diarrhea and complications from pregnancy and childbirth. These ailments, which are Nigeria’s leading causes of death, are all preventable or treatable.

Sadder still, we lead the world in maternal mortality; one in five women who die at childbirth worldwide is Nigerian and Bill Gates recently described our country as “the most dangerous place in the world to give birth.”

Nigeria federal government spends less than 6 per cent of the national budget on health and only a tiny fraction of that on primary healthcare. Even more dismal 1-3 per cent at the state and local government levels. The recent roll-out of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund and a federal government plan to revive 10,000 primary healthcare facilities across Nigeria will help to revitalize this important system.

The 2019 allocation to healthcare is 4.1 per cent of the national budget. Just over a quarter of that will go to primary healthcare – mainly for the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund and childhood vaccines – adding up to approximately N82 billion.

World Health Day is near (April 7) and this year’s theme is universal health coverage. Nigeria’s state and federal governments could make the day a truly meaningful one by pledging to invest at least 15 per cent of future national budgets on health and 60 per cent of that total on primary care as affirmed during Abuja Declaration of 2001.

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