Friday 20 January 2023


 Health is created at home. Sickness takes you to the hospital for repairs - Dr. Garuba.

Dr. Garuba was one of the panelists. He made the above statement, which captured the mood of the conference held at the Rainbow Event Marquee, Abuja on the 13th of January 2023. The theme was: HTC repositioning the health sector & creating the pathway to an effective health system...

L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Sen. Dr. Aliu Sabi Abdullahi (Representative of Sen. Kashim Shettima)

The conference was convened by Dr. Jide Idris, (former Commissioner for Health, Lagos state), while the co-convener was Dr. Salma Anas Ibrahim (former Commissioner for Health, Borno state). The former highlighted the giant strides in the health sector under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos state while the latter intimated the audience with the fact that in spite of insecurity in Borno state, Sen. Aliyu Shettima, improved the health sector while he was Governor. Both Tinubu and Shettima are the presidential and Vice Presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria.

Photo L-R: Dr. Salma Anas Ibrahim (fmr. Commissioner for Health, Borno state & Co-convener), Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Sen. Dr. Aliu Sabi Abdullahi (Representative of Sen. Kashim Shettima) & a journalist

There were four sub-themes:

*Political economy of health in Nigeria: Lessons learnt from putting health on the political agenda
*Building a resilient health sector for emergencies & displaced persons/Sustainable health systems at the state level
*Mobilising domestic resources for health/Financing Nigeria's UHC aspirations
*Addressing Nigeria's healthcare infrastructure deficit: A proposal to rapidly re-build Nigeria's health infrastructure stock

Some of the participants were:

*Dr. Jide Idris - Convener/Fmr. Commissioner for Health, Lagos state
*Dr. Salma Anas Ibrahim - Co-convener/Fmr. Commissioner for Health, Borno state
*Dr. Osagie Ohanire - Minister for Health
*Dr. Pamela Ajayi - President, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria
*Dr. Ikechukwu Odikpo - Director (Medical) PCC
*Dr. Tunde Ayeye - CEO IFS Group
*Dr. Mohammed Lecky - Fmr. DG NHIS & INEC Federal Commissioner
*Dr. Shuaib Faisal - DG NPHCDA
*Sen Dr. Lanre Tejuoso - Pro Chancellor University of Lagos
*Dr. Chika Offor - Chair, Health Sector Reform Coalition
*Comrade Alli Abana - Community Health Expert
*Dr. Femi Ogunremi - CEO Monitor Healthcare
*Dr. Akin Abayomi - HC Health, Lagos state
*Dr. Ngozi Onyia - MD Paelon
*Pharmacist Erelu Munair - Pharmacist
*Dr. Obinna Onwujekwe - Health Economist
*Dr. Gafar Alawode - DGI Consult
*Dr. Ejike Oji - SSA Health & Human Services to Minister, FCT
*Dr. Tunde Ipaye - Fmr. Commissioner of Health, Ogun state
*Mrs Njide Nidili - MD Pharm Access Foundation
*Prof. Nasir Sambo - DG, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)
*Dr. Walter Olatunde - Social Infrastructure Consultant
*Ms Vivianne Ihekweazu - MD, Nigeria Healthwatch
*Prof Akin Mabogunje - President, National Postgraduate Medical College
*Mrs Fola Laoye - CEO, Iwosan
*Hon. Juliana Bitrus - Fmr. Health Commissioner, Borno state
*Dr. Yemi Johnson - CEO, First Cardiology Consultants
*Dr. John Okoh - Founder/CEO Renal Dialysis Centre

Some of the issues discussed were:

*UHC is a sine qua non for guaranteeing the average citizen in Nigeria support for various kinds of illness. The target should be UHC by 2030.

*There should be continuous improvement in healthcare

*There should be coordinated emergency medical service.

*Lessons learnt from putting health on the front burner need to be continuously documented.

*3% of the national budget allocated to health in Nigeria is very poor. Botswana is 6%, while the UK is 12%...

*Paying at the point of care is a dis-service to the citizens.

*Government should be an enabler of resilient health services in the private sector.

*There should be robust plans/template for tackling healthcare during emergencies: pandemics, insurgency, war, climate change, etc. IDPs need to be taken into account. The Health System should be a continuum, don't wait for the next pandemic. Never waste lessons learnt from a crisis.

*The health paradigm should involve other relevant Ministries, Parastatals, and indeed the private sector.

*UHC via the HTC would ensure that medical tourism by Nigerian patients is kept to the barest minimum.

*There is the need to deploy more technology for solving problems in the health sector. Artificial Intelligence (AI), including robotics and Open AI/GPT-3 should be used.

*We need to horizontalise erstwhile vertical programmes in the health sector.

*Fertility rate should be reduced.

*Continuous Research & Development (R&D) in the health sector. There should be a separate fund apart from TETFUND to take care of health research.

The consensus was that with health on the front burner of the political agenda, the citizens have a better deal as regards solution to health challenges. Always remember that building health at home is an incremental process of daily healthy habits. We should not wait to fall ill before realising the importance of health. Health is wealth, indeed...The conversation continues...


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