For our personal health to thrive, a functioning healthcare system is key


Personal health refers to the ability to take responsibility for your health by making conscious choices to be healthy. It is not only about physical well-being, but also about your mental health, which I have been committed to for several years. It also includes other areas such as professional, social, emotional, spiritual and economic aspects of your personal existence.

As a frequent contributor to this section of the Women’s Hub, I would like to start by calling on the government to put the state of our healthcare system in Nigeria in order. In order for our personal health to be healthy, it shouldn’t be disrupted by an ineffective healthcare system, but unfortunately it is.

It will be another day of celebration for Nigeria as October 1st 2022 is again a day to celebrate Nigerian Independence and this comes with all the different shades of hilarity.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing and the nature of our fragile healthcare sector, you will think that government should be more proactive to ensure this system is prioritized and fixed as we all know that health is wealth, but no ! because our society is plagued by a toxic mix of problems consisting of poor sanitation, inaccessibility to quality healthcare, corruption, malnutrition, lack of access to safe drinking water, poor healthcare infrastructure, counterfeit medicines, insufficient financial investment and lack of adequate medical staff.

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Our government’s performance in the health sector has been abysmal and that is quite unfortunate for a Nigerian. Investment in infrastructure has been low and meager pay for healthcare workers has led to a massive brain drain and migration to the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Europe.

The government’s annual budget for the health sector is around 5%, which is less than the agreed 15% pledged by AU countries in the 2001 Abuja Declaration. To date, only 2 countries in Africa have achieved this, Rwanda and South Africa, where Nigeria is said to be the “giant of Africa”.

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Hardly a year goes by without a major nationwide strike by health workers. In the last 2 months there is an ongoing from the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD.

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The main reasons for these strikes are poor wages and a lack of government investment in the health sector. Unfortunately, many Nigerians cannot afford private hospitals because they are simply too expensive.

Funding has been shown to be a major issue for patients in Nigeria as they have to pay out of pocket to access quality healthcare. With this in mind, one would think that having the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) administered by Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) would help people secure better quality healthcare. A lack of political will and corruption have killed this opportunity and made quality medical care inaccessible to people who contributed to the system.

The health sector, like other key sectors in the country such as education, has failed largely due to inept leadership. It’s a shame that our healthcare system is failing. Multilateral organizations and donor countries, which are also beginning to experience donor fatigue, are aware of these challenges, but there is little they can do to improve the situation.

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way forward

I am a very proud Nigerian Doctor living and working in Nigeria as not all of us are going to japa (relocate). It is my firm belief that we need all hands on deck for Nigerian politicians, health workers, including those in the diaspora, to come together and create a long-term blueprint for the sector.

This should include a strategy for success for the next 20-30 years with timelines and key performance indicators. This blueprint must be followed to make health care financing, universal health insurance, and others a reality. Only through this can we begin to see a more productive Nigerian for a healthy society.

dr MAYMUNAH YUSUF KADIRI is a multi-award-winning Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist with nearly 20 years of practicing medicine. She is Medical Director and Chief Psychiatrist at Pinnacle Medical Services, Nigeria. A trained and certified Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral Therapist from Albert Ellis Institute, New York, USA. She is also a certified trauma counselor and neurofeedback practitioner.

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