As Nigeria celebrates 60 years of independence, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Plateau chapter, has decried the high rate of maternal and infant mortality in the country.
The Chairman of the chapter, Dr Emmanuel Innocent, while assessing developments in the health sector in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos described the situation as “disturbing.”
He said that the country’s ranking was very low in maternal mortality, as many women continue to die during child birth or six weeks after child birth.
He explained that infant mortality, which is the death of children under the age of one year and perinatal mortality — featal death or neotals in the first week of life, are also high.
NAN reports that according to World Health Organisation, an estimated more than 600 maternal deaths occurred in the country between 2005 and 2015.
The NMA chairman said that the mortality rate in the country was as a result of high poverty, impeding access to quality healthcare services.
He added that corruption in the management of resources in the health sector had also affected the availability of hospital equipment, drugs and other basic facilities for medical services.
Innocent said Nigeria was ranked low in the global ranking using health indices.
He added that “Nigeria sits at 187 out of 191 countries in the global ranking of health. We are only better than four countries which is not good for us.”
He said health personnel in the country were not catered for, resulting in brain drain of medical doctors to foreign countries with better working conditions and welfare packages.
“We have graduated about 70,000 doctors from the Nigerian Medical school but we have only 35,000 in the country now,” he said.
He explained that doctors left the country not only to seek greener pastures but also because of inter professional rivalry in the health sector, making the work environment not conducive for optimal service delivery.
He said poverty was a major factor in frustrating health service delivery, saying that many patients do not have finances to pay their bills, making the health workers to sometimes pay for their services.
He noted that government should increase budgetary allocation to the health sector and strengthen the National Health Insurance Scheme to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
He, however, commended Gov Simon Lalong for the recent launch of the state’s social health insurance scheme and expressed optimism it would facilitate access to quality healthcare for the indigent and vulnerable people in the state.
The NMA chairman said infrastructure development was critical to improving the health sector, adding that government should evolve policies with role definition of proffessionals, using international best practices to tackle rivalry in the sector.
Rev. Christopher Dancher, the Coordinator of Civil Society Organisations in Plateau said
government was not prioritising the healthcare system.
He said Nigeria was blessed with experts in the health sector but some hospitals were in sorry state, leading to medical tourism by leaders who are supposed to address the disrepair.(NAN)