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Subsidise healthcare services to achieve universal health coverage, Experts urge govts

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A Consultant Nephrologist, Dr Ebun Bamgboye, has urged the three tiers of government to subsidise healthcare services for both rural and urban dwellers to achieve universal health coverage.

Bamgboye, also a Clinical Director at St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, made the plea at the “The August Event” 2019 in Lagos.

It was organised to celebrate late Chief (Dr) Moses Majekodunmi Foundation’s ideals on healthcare and education as well as the St. Nicholas Hospital at 50.

Theme of the programme was: “Universal Health Coverage and the Role of a Functional National Health Insurance Scheme.”

Bamgboye said that services should be made available for all at affordable cost and at a location within the reach of all.

“The less privileged may need governments’ subsidy or through government funded health insurance scheme and the privileged pay their due costs for these services.

“We must first, as a nation, accept that the provision of universal healthcare is a fundamental human right which must be respected and implemented.

“Universal healthcare is accessible in only 58 countries across the world and half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential healthcare services according to the World Bank and WHO.

“Each year, large numbers of households are being pushed into poverty, because they must pay for the healthcare out of their pockets,” Bamgboye said.

He said that countries with universal healthcare coverage were through compulsory contributory, but government-subsidised public insurance plans, such as the UK’s National Health Service.

“There are four basic models of healthcare system which include Beveridge, National Health Insurance, Bismarck and out-of-pocket models.

“There is a clear non-realisation of the objective of making healthcare available and accessible to Nigerians at an affordable cost.

“Most Nigerians still pay out of their pockets for medical expenses, only three per cent registered on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which continues to drive many families to catastrophic health expenditures and poverty,” Bamgboye said.

He said that reasons for the failure of NHIS include: inadequate legal framework for a successful scheme, poor implementation of the act, lack of political will and poor government funding.

Bamgboye, on the success story of the hospital since 1999, said that the hospital had been working to shape the field of renal care and transplantation.

“Our comprehensive treatment for kidney disease include: dialysis, kidney transplantation and post-transplant care.

“We are working to pioneer liver transplants in West Africa; hence, the screening process for potential recipients commenced at the hospital on July 13.

“As pioneer of advanced medical care in Nigeria and driven by genuine concern for the growing healthcare challenges of the people, we now offer the therapeutic apheresis procedure,” he said.

Also, Mr Olufemi Akingbade, Lagos Zonal Coordinator, NHIS, said that the public-private partnership was very important to achieve universal health coverage.

Akingbade said that government could not achieve it alone, hence the need to involve private sectors to improve health insurance scheme.

“If healthcare service is going to be available to all, it means both governments and private sector need to start thinking of innovative ways.

“Health insurance scheme is not about health financing, but it is about creating ecosystem for the healthcare system in the country.

“Universal health coverage does not mean free health, because someone has to pay, but it can be achieved in the country.

“We can achieve universal health coverage by making it social health insurance such as benefit package that maximise everything on health.

“National Health Act needs to be strengthened; we need to get mandatory laws for everyone to be involved in the health insurance scheme,” he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that late Majekodunmi was the founder of St. Nicholas Hospital and also the first ever Minister of Health.

St. Nicholas Hospital was established in 1968 and started primarily as a hospital for women and children, but has since grown into a multidisciplinary specialist hospital.

Majekodunmi advocated a contributory health service in a Health Bill in 1963 and originally drafted by him as far back as 1951 as Secretary of the Nigeria Medical Association.

Edited by Olagoke Olatoye

Health

Emeka Offor donates N8.5m to UNN for Digital Anatomy Laboratory

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Nigeria’s Polio Ambassador, Sir Emeka Offor, has donated N8.52million to the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), towards furnishing and up-grading of its Digital Anatomy Laboratory.

Head of Communications of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), Mr. Emeka Ezeh, made this known in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nige3ria on Saturday in Enugu.

Ezeh said that Offor, who is Chairman of EEDC, made the presentation of the cheque to the Dean, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Prof. Amaechi Atama, at the faculty building in UNN, through him (Head of Communications of EEDC) on Friday, Aug. 16.

The EEDC’s spokesman noted that the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, in its effort to meet-up with global best practices, approached Offor for assistance to enable it equip and furnish its Digital Anatomy Laboratory, and he honoured their request.

Reacting, Head of Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Dr Maxwell Adibe, appreciated Offor for the gesture.

He said that the Faculty had been going after public-spirited individuals for support as the government alone cannot cater for the needs of the institution.

Adibe said that the Digital Anatomy Laboratory would be named after Offor, as a memorial, so that generations to come would know that the laboratory was actually equipped by him.

“We resolved in our Faculty that anyone that comes to our aid, we shall name the project after the person and we are thrilled by this gesture,’’ he said.

In his reaction, Dean, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Prof. Amaechi Atama, thanked Offor in ensuring that the project becomes a reality.

Atama said: “Sir Emeka Offor has taken the lead, and we hope that others like him should follow suit’’.

NAN recalls that Offor, who is also the Chairman of Chrome Group, is also a globally recognised philanthropist that had donated millions of dollars towards the eradication of Polio.

Offor through Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), a NGO, was involved in transforming lives over the years through various intervention programmes such as: Youth Empowerment Scheme; Widows Cooperative Scheme; Education Scholarship Scheme; Health Scheme Services and Infrastructure Development Scheme.

Edited by Felix Ajide

 

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Expert says Nigeria capable of handling Ebola case

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A medical expert, Dr Ademola Lawal, has said that Nigeria has the capacity to handle any case of Ebola in the country with its experience on the Lassa fever challenge.

He also gave the assurance that the country has taken all necessary steps, and was prepared to detect and curb any case of Ebola that could come into the country.

“Our in-country improved capacity to prevent, detect and respond to Lassa fever will ensure that any case of Ebola that sneaks into the country will be detected.

“Ebola and Lassa fever belong to the same class of diseases called Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers; they have similar signs and symptoms.

“For it to get to Nigeria, an infected person has to come to Nigeria; through our borders; just like Mr Sawyer did in 2014, travelling through our airport from Liberia.

“The Nigerian government, with support from partners like World Health Organisation (WHO), is currently strengthening the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Port Health Department of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“This is to enable them effectively screen persons entering Nigeria through air, land and sea ports,’’ he said.

Lawal said that capacity of most Nigerian communities was also being built to ensure that symptoms of the disease are detected and reported without delay.

He added that hundreds of Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) have been posted to all local government areas in the country.

“On a continuous process, the capacities of almost all communities are being built to report any unusual disease or health related occurrence. Same applies to health workers.

“We have 780 DSNOs, one for each LGA and the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory, to coordinate activities at the LGA level.

“This is to ensure that everyone knows, if they “see something’’ health related, who they should “say something’’ to,’’ he said.

The epidemiologist said that all health facilities, pharmacies and patent medicine stores within each LGA had contacts of DSNOs posted to their localities to be used for emergency notification when the need arise.

“That is the disease notification that is in place, not just for Ebola or Lassa fever, but all notifiable diseases,’’ he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is grappling with an Ebola scourge, which has claimed many lives.

The scourge in DRC necessitated her neighbours, as well as other African countries, including Nigeria, to take precautionary measures to prevent the disease from entering their countries.

KAE/IS

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

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Why we chased away polio immunisation officials — Kano community

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Members of Makuntiri community in Bunkure Local Government Area of Kano State, on Friday gave reasons for chasing away health workers drafted to conduct polio immunization in the community.

The angry community members who spoke to the Nigeria News Agency said that they took the action to draw government attention to their plight.

According to them, the road leading to the community is in terrible condition while the bridge linking them to other areas had collapsed.

Malam Ahmad Ubale, a resident, said they had done all that was necessary to notify government about the state of the road leading to the community, to no avail.

“To show you that we have been left out, people hardly come to visit our community until polio periods; so this time we have to chase the workers away.

“We did that because government has given priority to immunization more than anything else, so our rejecting it is to draw government officials attention to our condition,” Ubale said.

Another resident, Malam Mudi Bala, expressed concern over the collapse of economic activities in the community as people hardly visit to transact businesses because of the collapsed bridge.

“You have seen it yourself,  the community isn’t easily accessible especially with vehicles. Whenever we go out of the community, it’s always difficult coming back.

“Our people suffer from other ailments and we are expected to take them to the hospitals which are far from here; how do we cope with the situation,” he said.

Bala, however, appealed to the government for prompt intervention to improve their living condition, saying they were not asking for too much.

NAN reports that the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Health, Alhaji Usman Bala, later led the immunization team back to the community and got the children immunized.

He noted the grievances of the community but warned the residents to desist, henceforth, from injecting politics into health related issues.

NAN reports that Bunkure Local Government had targeted about 62,000 children below the age of five for immunization in the just concluded August Immunization Plus Days.

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Meningitis: Over 26m children at risk in Nigeria – Agency

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The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) says 26.7 million children aged one to seven years are at risk of meningitis in 25 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), of federation.

Mr Adetunji Adeoye, the representative of the agency, stated this during the flag off ceremony of introduction of meningitis vaccination (Men A) into routine immunisation given to nine months old children on Friday in Akure.

Adeoye said that vaccines are the only way to prevent serious disease like meningitis, adding that it remains a great health challenge in Nigeria.

He explained that Men A vaccine would prevent children against the disease, assuring that it is safe and effective without any negative effects on children.

According to him, health workers have been trained to diligently administer the vaccine to all eligible children.

Dr Wahab Adegbenro, the state Commissioner for Health, said that the state government had not relented in ensuring that all residents, especially children, were in good health.

Adegbenro noted that measles, meningitis and yellow fever could kill children but said that there is vaccination to combat them.

The commissioner stated that the vaccination would be given to eligible children free of charge in all government health facilities in the state; hence there was no excuse for parents not to make their children available for the immunisation.

According to him, the vaccine has been tested and proven safe for children’s usage.

The commissioner said that the state government was doing a lot in the sector, working and collaborating with the Federal Government.

“Our contributory health insurance scheme will commence hopefully in November this year and this will afford everyone access to good healthcare services with just a token.

“Under the scheme, pregnant women and children aged five years below will be given privilege to access healthcare services free of charge,’’ he stated.

Adegbenro, therefore, commended the federal government for making the vaccines available, appreciated NPHCDA, UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO) for their support, asking them to do more.

Similarly, Dr Ajibayo Adeyeye, the Special Adviser on Health Matters to the state governor, commended all the development partners for their contributions in eradicating the killer diseases.

Adeyeye, who was represented by Dr Francis Akanbiemu, the Executive Secretary, Ondo State Primary Healthcare Development Board, however solicited more awareness on the vaccine.

The special adviser commended the state governor for investing heavily in the sector toward achieving a healthy society.

Mr Tunde Ayoade, the representative of UNICEF, said that no eligible children should be denied from taking the vaccine.

Ayoade urged health workers to ensure good relationship with their communities for proper and adequate vaccination.

Mr Gbenga Olaniyi, the Caretaker Chairman of Akure South Local Government Area, also commended the federal and state governments as well as all development partners for the success of the exercise.

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Meningitis: 26.7m children aged 1-7 at risk in Nigeria – NPHCDA

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), has said that 26.7 million Nigerian children between one a seven years of age are at risk of contracting meningitis.

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, revealed this on Friday in Calabar in a message during the introduction of “Men A” vaccine into routine immunisation in Cross River.

In the signed message, made available to journalists at the occasion, Shuaib said that Nigeria had 25 states and the FCT that fell within the meningitis belt.

He said that use of vaccines was the only way to prevent meningitis for now.

“The introduction of “Men A” vaccine into the EPI schedule will provide protection against Neisseria Meningitis Serotype A,” Shuaib said.

In his speech, Prof. Ivara Esu, Deputy Governor of Cross River, said the state had trained hundreds of health workers to ensure the success of the exercise.

Esu said that since Cross River was among the 25 states that fell within the belt, the government would do everything possible to ensure that every eligible child was immunised.

“Immunisation remains the protection against Meningitis. Meningitis is a devastating disease that affects children.

“We will ensure that every eligible child in the state is immunised,” he said.

The deputy governor urged all women to take their children within 15 months of birth to the nearest government health facility for immunisation.

He expressed appreciation to all the partners in the fight against meningitis, including World Health Organization (WHO) United Nation’s Children Education Fund and the NPHCDA.

Also, Mr Rilwan Raji, the State Coordinator of WHO in Cross River, appealed to the state government to ensure the vaccines were well protected.

Raji said there was need for periodic review of routine immunisation in the state.

He appealed to traditional rulers, religious and opinion leaders to sensitise their subjects and followers on the need to take advantage of the exercise to immunise their children.

NAN reports that a lot of children were immunised during the occasion. .

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