As Nigeria prepares to go to polls in 2023, a governorship aspirant under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Nasarawa State, Hon. David Ombugadu has maintained that issues of health should be on the front burner during the campaigns.
He made this assertion during his remarks at a two-day strategic retreat organised by the African Health Budget Network (AHBN) at the weekend in Abuja, saying politicians and political parties must prioritise health and tell Nigerians what they will do to protect them and their livelihoods.
Science Nigeria reports that the retreat reviewed Nigeria’s Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) Recovery Plan Scorecard and validate the family planning (FP) 2030 Accountability motion tracker template.
He said that it was equally imperative for politicians, who would eventually form government at the state and national levels, to prioritise health in their programmes during electioneering.
The PDP guber candidate said that the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Bill 2022 which repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme Act, regulates, implements, ensures and invests, called for a huge responsibility requiring manpower and adequate funding for the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Ombugadu also called on politicians to ensure the full implementation of the new act, to provide coverage for all Nigerians.
“Politics and health are intertwined. Politicians at all levels of government must promise their constituents better access to health care.
“The country’s health system is financially and managerially overwhelmed by various disease burdens. This forces Nigerians to pay for their care, which is often of mediocre quality and risks pushing many of them further into poverty,” he said.
According to him, a country’s health system that fulfils its responsibilities to citizens cannot function in isolation, it needs good governance in terms of policy-making, appropriations, oversight and accountability mechanisms.
“That is, democratically elected governments/legislatures must pass informed policies and laws that govern the health system and allocate adequate resources to the health sector,” he explained.
Ombugadu lamented that the country has become the world’s number one contributor to deaths of children under the age of five.
“While most deaths resulting from pneumonia occur in developing countries and about three-quarters in just 15 countries, more than half of the world’s annual incident cases occur in Nigeria,” he said.
He said that politicians need to realise that the country remains one of the worst places in the world to give birth.
“No child deserves to die from vaccines preventable diseases, childhood mortality remains a major public health challenge in Nigeria, despite the substantial global decline in childhood deaths and most politicians do not know what this means,” he stressed.
Ombugadu wondered why Nigerian children die. “This is one of the most important questions for every politician. It is hard to think of a measure of how a society is doing that reveals more about its protection of its children, especially the most vulnerable ones.
“The better we understand why children die, the more we can do to save them,” he explained.