A Medical General Practitioner, Dr Olukayode Akinlade has urged government at all levels to increase and improve access to quality primary health care services across Nigeria.
Akinlade, who is also the Medical Director of a Lagos-based private hospital, in Alimosho, said made the appeal in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
He said that the three tiers of government must as a policy focus more on primary health care, which must be comprehensive in nature.
“Primary health care must not only include clinical and curative care with doctors, nurses and other health workers, but with health preventive and promotive programmes.
“Such programmes should include routine immunisation, ante-natal care, non-communicable diseases, screening, intervention and prevention of complications from chronic diseases.
“Routine immunisation coverage which can be accessed at the Primary Health Centres (PHCs) rate is still low in some states for various reasons and the national coverage is only 33 per cent.” Akinlade said.
He noted that the high levels of morbidity and mortality, especially in children were illnesses and conditions that could easily be prevented such as malaria and vaccine preventable diseases which are poorly addressed at the primary care levels.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines primary health care as the principal vehicle for the delivery of health care at the most local level of a country’s health system,” Akinlade said.
He said that for government to improve access to primary health centres, there would be need to rehabilitate existing facilities and strengthen their capacity to provide efficient and efficient services.
“Strengthening of primary health centres can be achieved by improving the policy formulation, implementation mechanism and institutionalising health council at state and national levels.
“Governments needs to rationalise the functions of the primary healthcare departments of the ministries of health at state and federal levels.
“There is also the need to put in place effective mechanism for coordinating support for the delivery of quality primary healthcare services through supervision, monitoring and evaluation,” he said.
According to him, government has the responsibility to ensure that all citizens have access to quality health services in order to enjoy the highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being.
“This, in effect, means that policy formulation at national, state or local government levels in Nigeria on health must not only take cognisance of this fact, but ensure a sustainable healthcare system.
“Health is wealth, therefore any government that makes its people healthy and gives priority to health matters is not only servicing the growth of the country but investing in it.
“Most of Nigeria’s problem is political leadership as Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and material resources and a very good climate condition devoid of natural trouble.
“An enlightened, visionary and committed political leadership with the will to harness various potential in Nigeria will impact healthcare delivery positively with subsequent reduction in our disease burden and poverty,” Akinlade said.
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