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2023: Prioritise healthcare in your campaigns – Stakeholders advise politicians

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As the 2023 general elections continue to gather momentum, political office seekers at the federal and state level, have been advised to prioritize healthcare in their campaigns.

Global Director of BudgiT, Mr Oluseun Onigbinde, gave the advice at the official launch of the Nigerian Health Sector Accountability report on Wednesday, in Abuja.

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Onigbinde, while stressing the importance of healthcare in Nigeria, said although security and economy based issues are essential, healthcare is the most crucial and the bedrock for success of every country.

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He urged political aspirants to change the narrative by engaging in conversations around healthcare systems that have seen over 70% of Nigerians spend out of their pocket to access in the country.

“We have to be much more deliberate around our advocacy. When it come to the use of public resources, it is a political decision and if healthcare systems are not prioritise, then we have not made it as political as it should be.

“We are in the moment of elections, we have to make health the central theme of conversation for all political campaigns.

“I know we have security, we have economy issues but without health, we have nothing. It is extremely important that we situate conversations around the elections on healthcare systems”, he added.

While decrying the state of healthcare delivery in Nigeria, BudgiT Global Director stressed the need for accountability in the sector.

He said “It is not about putting more money in healthcare, you need to be accountable. A lot of budget lines around healthcare system in Nigeria do not reflect the kind of outcomes that we want to see.

“Before you declare somebody unhealthy, there are several factors around poverty and environmental challenge. There has to be investment in things like that. For us, we believe accountability is crucial. Accountability of the personnel themselves not just money, accountability to ensure that when there are lapses or infractions people are being brought to book.

“Also, Funds committed to the health sector should be judiciously used,” he said.

Speaking on the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project CTAP, the Chief Executive Officer, Connected Development CODE, Mr. Hamzat Lawal said Nigeria should emulate Kenya in getting a central pool of data for Primary healthcare service delivery.

He said “Today in Kenya, we have one stop shop data bank where you can just click, get information on the Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) to know if they have enough manpower, vaccine, storage facilities and how many people have enjoyed the services. We don’t have this kind of facility here in Nigeria”.

He also said the CTAP project is targeted at delivering a roadmap for a better and robust PHCs across the country.

“For us we want to provide a roadmap, so in the next 10 years hopefully, we will have a robust PHC that can deliver on the demands of citizens particularly at the grassroots and reduce pressure from secondary and tertiary healthcare centres to deliver on this very critical healthcare infrastructure.

“We are hoping that this roadmap will help in the next 10 years to involve PHC and more importantly, prepare Nigeria and Africa for the next pandemic” he noted.

Also speaking, Assistant Manager BudgiT foundation, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, in his presentation said, Nigeria loses medical doctors and consultants to brain drain as a result of poor health care system.

According to him, medical doctors are currently overwhelmed in health facilities in Nigeria as a single doctor attend to 4,000 to 5,000 patients which is also affecting the state of healthcare in Nigeria.

He however called for more investment and better renumeration for medical workers for a better heathcare structure in Nigeria.

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