As Nigeria joins the world to celebrate the World Health Day on Saturday, health experts say the healthcare system in Nigeria is still below the expected level.
They spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos.
Olumuyiwa Odusote, Chairman, Lagos State Medical Guild, told NAN that access to medical services in the country was still very low as many people died because they could not afford medical expenses.
He said that 70 per cent of healthcare services in the country was being provided by private hospitals, while public health institutions were under-staffed and ill-equipped to manage demands for their services.
He said that many Nigerians could also not afford to pay for the services provided by these private hospitals.
According to him, poor access to healthcare services is responsible for the high mortality rate of any country.
The chairman decried the poor implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which was set up to address healthcare.
“NHIS has only benefited 10 per cent of enrollees under the scheme.
“The scheme was set up to address the issue of access to healthcare, but unfortunately, only a small proportion of the population enjoys it.
“The scheme should operate in such a way that every citizen should be provided with affordable healthcare services,’’ he said.
Amaechi Obiora, Joint Chairman, Eko Hospital, Lagos, said that medical tourism, whereby people seek medical services outside the country, had become the `in-thing’ in Nigeria because most Nigerians have lost faith in the healthcare of their country.
“Many people travel abroad to treat illnesses which can be treated locally at a lesser cost.
“Given the right facilities and manpower in the nation’s health system, people would not have to go abroad to die, with the additional cost of bringing their corpses home,’’ he said.
Oscar Odiboh, the Founder of AFRIBABY Initiative, said that the high rate of infant mortality in Nigeria was due to lack of proper baby care.
He said that there was the need for the National Assembly to enact a law for a six-month maternity leave for nursing mothers to breast-feed their children, as a surest way to ensure proper growth and development of children.
“If this can be achieved, then we can be sure that our children will grow healthy and mentally sound, as they are the future of the nation,’’ he said.
Oluwajimi Shodipo, the Medical Practitioner, Family Medicine Department, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said that in developing countries such as Nigeria, the life expectancy was about 45 years.
According to him, this is discouraging for the growth and development of the country.
“In this country, people do not take their health serious as they hardly do regular checkup, which is as important as having your bath regularly,’’ he said.
The experts urged the Federal Government to make adequate funding of the health sector a top priority.