•’Govts must uplift health sector’
MEDICAL doctors are abandoning Nigeria for greener pastures overseas owing to inadequate management of hospitals by the three tiers of government, former Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyaoku said yesterday.
He said over 4,765 Nigerian doctors were working in the United Kingdom (UK), which, according to him, constitute 1.7 per cent of the European country’s medical workforce.
Anyaoku spoke yesterday during the celebration of the 110th anniversary of the Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital and the launching of an ultramodern Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) at Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area, Anambra State.
He said Iyi-Enu Mission hospital had been no exception from the general decline of institutions throughout the country.
According him, “People of my age (85) feel nostalgic for the old days in the early years of our country’s independence.
“During that period, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, the Commonwealth ranked Nigeria fourth in the hierarchy of Health Sector efficiency countries.
“In fact, at that time, ours was a country that itself was attracting medical tourism on account of the quality of the services offered by the University Teaching Hospital Ibadan (UCH).
“But today, it is lamentable that the Federal Government’s endorsement of the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that 13 per cent of the national budget should be allocated to the health sector, as well as the African Union’s Abuja declaration in 2001 that 15 per cent of the national budget should be allocated to the health sector, only a paltry sum of between about 3.4 per cent and 5.6 per cent are allocated.”
The elder statesman said the result of the low budgetary allocation to the health sector over the years and “the Nigerian factor” had assailed the country with ill-equipped hospitals with low grade facilities.
“Indeed, most of our hospitals have been reduced to mere consulting clinics.
“Recently, we had a big shock to the national psyche, when it was revealed that even the Aso Rock Clinic that attends to the nation’s highest political leaders and their families was completely lacking in basic facilities like drugs and even syringes.
“It is, therefore, no surprise that when he visited Nigeria recently, Bill Gates, the Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in criticising Nigeria for spending relatively far too little on the development of its human capital, pointed to the nation’s health sector alongside the education sector as some of the most neglected,” the elder statesman said.
Anyaoku said Bill Gates’ reference to the Nigerian health sector was not comforting.
“Yet, Nigeria’s dismal record and bad reputation in the health sector cannot come to anybody as a surprise, not when highly qualified Nigerian doctors are voting with their feet, fleeing and abandoning the country in droves to work abroad,” he said.
He, therefore, hailed the authorities of Iyi-Enu Hospital under the leadership of the Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo, for accepting the challenge of restoring the health facility to its past glory.
“But in this highly desirable restoration, I enjoin the management to take seriously, the importance of specific training of technicians for the maintenance of the sophisticated diagnostic, dialysis and the MRI equipment that are installed, “Anyaoku said.
The event was attended by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, the traditional ruler of Ogidi, Igwe Alex Onyido and others.