The recent outburst by the wife of the president Mrs Aisha Buhari on the collapse of health care in the state house clinic has further bring to fore the state of our healthcare system in the country. Mrs Buhari had recently at a stakeholders meeting on productivity, Maternal, Nutrition, Child Advocacy and Health and Nutrition at the State House in Abuja criticized the management of Aso Rock Clinic as been redundant and inefficient after a budget of N3bn allocated to the clinic.
The clinic, which is meant to serve the president, vice president and their families as well as staff of the presidency and other privileged individuals, lacked drugs, including common ones like Paracetamol and Vitamin B-complex. It also lacked consumables such as syringes and cotton wool. Simple tests such as malaria cannot be conducted at the facility due to non-availability of necessary equipment. All these despite the fact that N3.8 billion was budgeted for the clinic in 2016 and another N331.7million in 2017 with zero capital allocation.
A Reflection of Neglect and Mismanagement in Public Health Institutions
The situation is a reflection of what obtains in government owned hospitals across the country. If the State House Clinic lacks drugs, what should one expect from other government health facilities that serves the masses? This is precisely the main reason why medical tourism from Nigeria flourishes. If this administration and previous ones had provided good hospitals and medical facilities as promised during various campaigns before getting into power, top officials would have been seeking medical care locally, which would have set a good example for other citizens. About a week ago, former vice president Dr. Alex Ekwueme under the express instructions of President Buhari was flown out of the country through an air ambulance for emergency medical attention.
Patients going to public hospitals all across the country have the same sordid tales to tell. No drugs, no equipment, poor service attitude. The government even in states and local governments in the federation should use the State House clinic as a spring board to launch investigations into the management of all public health centres across the country so as to ensure that citizens can access quality and affordable health care.
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In the Proposed 2018 budget the Government has set aside 1billion naira for the state house clinic. Experts have called for a monitoring mechanism to closely monitor the timely disbursement of funds to Public health institutions and ensure that such funds are used for the purpose it was meant for.
The pathetic situation in the state house clinic is a wake up call to government on the state of our health care in Nigeria. The government should also use the opportunity to address incessant industrial action by various health workers in the country. This does not present the country in good light.
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Fikayo Owoeye writes for Nairametrics