The Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON) has expressed concern over the poor state of infrastructure and health facilities in rural areas, saying that the situation has impeded access to quality and efficient health care services.
The Chairman of SOFPON, FCT-Keffi chapter, Dr Gbenga Ogunfowokan, expressed the concern in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ogunfowokan said that the poor condition of roads, power outage, and lack of clean water, among other things were impeding access to quality and efficient health care services in accordance with the aims of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
He urged the federal and state governments to embrace the tenets of universal health coverage by prioritising the provision of social facilities at the rural areas rather than focusing only on the urban centres.
The SOFPON chairman, who said that family physicians provided more than 80 per cent of health care needs of the people, emphasised that if given the needed support that they (physicians) would be able to reach out to rural communities with the highest disease burden in the country.
“The challenge of the society is that in our bid to reach out to those yet to be reached, we discovered that we lack all the needed support.
“For instance, a family physician wants to go to one rural environment to make sure that the health of the people is being properly managed, but realises that there is no access road, no water, no light, and no bank in the place.
“In most cases there are no schools and the people have been rejected, left dejected and more or less marginalised and the family physicians want to go there and care for them; this a big challenge.
“Therefore, we are calling on government at all levels to support family physicians to turn our people’s health indices around by making sure they develop the environment by providing amenities and necessary facilities for the people.
“If these issues can be addressed, it will be very easy for family physicians to achieve UHC goals,” she said.
He described family physicians as gatekeepers in health care delivery.
“The clinical specialty of family practice is patient-centered, evidence-based, family-focused, and problem-oriented.
“Family physicians acquire and maintain a broad array of competencies that depend on the needs of the patients and communities they serve,”Ogunfowokan said.