By Folasade Akpan
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says the Federal Government will partner with the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) to foster healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
Ehanire gave the assurance in Abuja at the inaugural Leadership and Business Summit of the group.
According to him, the ministry is already in negotiations to have a Memorandum of Engagement with the guild to foster a lasting collaboration.
He also said that human resources and partnerships for the sector were very important.
“Nigeria has a large human resource pool, but with a disparity in distribution that has nurses, midwives and doctors concentrated in urban settings and low patient/doctor ratio.
“The emigration of health care workers only complicates the situation.
“Health is dynamic and we support a high degree of self-reliance and resilience for Nigeria, but I encourage partnerships in investment for risk pooling and urgency in building local capacity”, he added.
Ehanire said that Nigeria had reached a level of development that qualified it to join the ranks of middle income countries in the world, who operate an Emergency Medical Treatment service for the common good.
He said that the nation was in dire need of such a system which had long since become a routine in many countries, including Egypt, Morocco and South Africa.
He added that the establishment of the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System (NEMSAS) puts Nigeria on course to join civilised countries capable of coming to citizens aid, where and when lives were under threat.
“To operationalise it, we chose a unique path to pool accredited ambulances of government and private sector, to be on call to offer First Aid and transfer, if needed to accredited hospitals with no immediate demand for payment at point of care.
“The novel service is on course for launch, and is expected to save thousands of lives of children, pregnant women, accident victims and victims of violent attacks.
“This initiative is not possible without collaboration with the private sector, which owns over half the ambulances in the country and therefore integral to the success of the scheme.”
The minister said that accredited ambulance and Urgent Care Centers, both private and public, would be remunerated for the service, according to set tariff, which removes delay in access to prompt medical attention on arrival at a hospital.
“This arrangement was cemented with a recent Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Guild of Medical Directors”, Ehanire added.
He also identified strengthening of primary and secondary health care and some other health care interventions that would help in reinvigorating health services in the country.
President of the guild, Dr Raymond Kuti, in his address of welcome, said that the health sector was rapidly and continuously hemorrhaging and as healthcare practitioners, they were at a crossroads and at a loss on ways out of the challenges.
According to him, the Medical Health Economics of Nigeria in 2021 was approximately seven trillion Naira, of which N500 billion was spent on medical tourism by Nigerians.
He also said that 70 per cent of Nigerians still patronise the private healthcare centers many of which were of the unconventional category.
“Nearly all the private patients pay out of pocket as the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and Health Management Organisations (HMOs) have not been able to cover even 10 per cent of the populace.
“Healthcare practitioners and their patients have been on the receiving end of unfulfilled promises and underachievement by policy makers and governmental stakeholders as services are inaccessible to patients and funding is unavailable to private healthcare facility owners.
“The lack of modem equipment as well as inadequate or sometimes non-existent welfare benefits for medical personnel can be said to be major drivers of the brain drain being experienced in the health sector currently”, he added.
Kuti, however, said that the goal of the guild was to inaugurate and sustain constructive dialogue with the policy makers in the legislative arms of the government with a view to achieving win-win’ solutions to the numerous challenges in the Nigerian healthcare sector.
Also to reduce the volume of medical tourism to the barest minimum, actively work at upgrading the Nigeria private health sector such that it becomes the medical hub for the continent.
He also said that the guild aims at fostering business environments where private medical centers in Nigeria could grow into attractive franchises for uptake by other enterprises across the continent.
“Our business models can become as export worthy as our expertise has been.
“To take progressive steps at collaboration with government hospitals in form of partnerships and integrations.
“This would lead to situations where the public healthcare facilities can be made available to private health practitioners to give patients, especially in rural areas the same type of expertise obtainable in tertiary centers”, he said.
The president assured of the guild’s readiness to partner with all requisite sectors to help make the Nigerian health sector a flourishing industry. (NAN)