No Better Time To Renew Nigeria’s Health Sector – Minister

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Dr. Muhammad Pate.
Dr. Muhammad Pate.

The coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate has declared that it is time to rejuvenate Nigeria’s health sector.

Speaking at a recent event in Abuja focused on the revitalisation of Nigeria’s healthcare system, he emphasised the need for comprehensive improvements to ensure a healthier population.

The event, held from September 7th to 9th, followed a three-day ministerial briefing session organised by the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Its objective was to shed light on the current realities of the health and social welfare sector and to initiate the development of an ambitious yet achievable blueprint for Nigeria’s healthcare system.

Pate pointed out that while Nigeria possesses a substantial healthcare workforce of approximately 400,000 dedicated professionals working under challenging conditions, there remains significant room for improvement in the sector. He acknowledged the sacrifices made by these healthcare workers but emphasised that more can be done to enhance healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

The minister highlighted the collaborative approach needed to effect meaningful change in the health sector. He expressed the commitment of the federal government, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), as well as sub-national entities and the private sector to work together in this renewal process.

Pate detailed the government’s strategy, which encompasses improving governance quality, strengthening leadership within hospitals, enhancing regulatory oversight through institutions like NAFDAC and promoting better management of healthcare facilities, both public and private.

Furthermore, he noted the unifying potential of health, emphasising its role in fostering national cohesion. Pate envisaged health as a vehicle for bringing people together, transcending geographic and sociocultural divides.

One of the key areas of focus outlined by Pate was the improvement of population health outcomes. He highlighted the need to address vaccine-preventable diseases, reduce maternal and child mortality and prioritise non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension.

Pate stressed the importance of human resources in the healthcare sector, underlining the significance of training and retraining healthcare professionals. He also advocated for increased allocation of resources to healthcare, targeting the National Assembly, Representatives and state governors to prioritise health spending.

The coordinating minister emphasised the need for medical industrialisation, as a substantial portion of Nigeria’s pharmaceuticals and medical devices are currently imported. Pate proposed unlocking the full potential of the medical value chain to create jobs, stimulate GDP growth and foster self-reliance.

Regarding health security, Pate highlighted the necessity of preventing and managing disease outbreaks. He affirmed the commitment to invest more in strengthening surveillance, detection and response capabilities across healthcare facilities.

Moreover, Pate disclosed that social welfare has been integrated into the ministry, promoting collaboration with other government departments at the national and sub-national levels, including women’s affairs, water resources and the environment.

In closing, Pate emphasised the importance of financial protection to reduce the cost of healthcare and promote health through the prevention of factors such as smoking and sugary beverage consumption.

The Minister of State for Health and Social Development, Dr. Tunji Alausa also underscored the government’s commitment to healthcare. He cited McKinsey’s report, which highlighted progress in addressing non-communicable diseases but noted the growing prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, among others.

In line with the government’s pledge, Alausa reiterated the commitment to collaborate with all stakeholders, emphasising the need for a collective effort to improve healthcare in Nigeria.

He announced plans for the digitalisation of the healthcare system, aimed at enhancing data quality and validation to support healthcare delivery. The rollout of a national electronic medical record system, initially implemented in tertiary hospitals, was also mentioned as a cost-effective measure to improve patient care.

In summary, the government’s renewed commitment to healthcare in Nigeria seeks to transform the sector comprehensively. Through a collaborative approach, strengthened governance, enhanced health security and increased investment, the government aims to provide better access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians and promote healthier lives across the nation.

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