As part of efforts to revamp Nigeria’s ailing healthcare system, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mr. Olumide Akintayo, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to invest heavily in health research and development. Besides, he wants Buhari to come up with reforms that will usher in a petrochemical industry in the interest of the public, describing it as the precursor for genuine industrial revolution across board.
In a speech made available to The Union containing his association’s demand from the new government, Akintayo said the president could achieve a robust health research system through dedication of funds for the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and other research institutes in the country. He noted that such investment would improve the general performance of the sector and also help in finding the cures for the high disease burden in the country. He argued: “It is the shame of a nation that at time of national health emergences, we depend entirely on other nations to provide vaccines and medicines for clinical disease that are exclusive to the tropics.
This must change in the envisaged new dispensation.” The health sector is one sector in Nigeria that requires urgent attention considering the myriad of problems confronting it. According to the World Bank, Nigeria has infant mortality rate of 78 deaths per 1,000 live births (2011 estimates) and also contributes the second largest maternal deaths in the world after India.India and Nigeria are said to account for a third of global maternal deaths, with India at 19 per cent (56,000) and Nigeria at 14 per cent (40,000). More worrisome is that a lot of Nigerians still die of many preventable diseases like cholera, diarrhea, typhoid fever, pneumonia and other such minor ailments that can be treated by paramedics in other climes.
Hence , Akintayo also wants the Buhari-led administration to give priority to universal health insurance that is participatory and community based even as he listed criteria for achieving this. “A need for universal coverage is acceptable, but the condition precedent is to harness and consolidate the philosophy of a managed care concept that is statute entrenched”, he said.
According to him, there must be access to basic health as a fundamental right of the Nigerian citizen and proper implementation of the primary health care endeavors as canvassed in the new National Health Act. He went on: “Canvass a consolidated healthcare funding which requires first line deduction of at least 1% for healthcare delivery. This helps in funding the subsidy gap to ensure good healthcare. Promote the culture of corporate social responsibility by enlisting support of the banking, oil and gas and telecoms sectors which are the frontliners in the Nigerian economy.