The revelation by the Sun Media Development Foundation that Nigeria a country with over a population of 200 million people is facing a heightened public healthcare crisis, with many of its Primary Health Care (PHC) not functional should be a concern to every sane mind.
Many would have thought that the outbreak of Covid-19 presented an opportunity for the Nigerian state to begin to address the public health crisis. Unfortunately, that did not happen and is most unlikely to happen.
Mr. Dennis Idahosa, Chairman-House of Representatives Committee on Health Services while receiving the Sun Media Development Foundation official in his office disclosed that out of the 33,000 PHC in Nigeria, 31,000 are not functional.
Dennis disclosed that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Executive Director in a meeting with the House Committee affirmed that 31,000 PHCs in Nigeria are not functioning.
Sun Media Development Foundation’s finding corroborates what we since know. In our health project at MAWA Foundation, we found out that many PHCs in Nigeria are not functional with rural communities being the worst hit. Many of the community residents who spoke to MAWA on different occasions, recounted how they are losing lives as a result of inadequate healthcare.
This poor situation of healthcare in Nigeria has continued to persist mainly because of the mismanagement of resources meant for improved health in the country. For instance, in the 2023 budget, N1.17 trillion was allocated to the health sector.
The mismanagement of funds meant for healthcare in Nigeria became pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic. MAWA-Foundation trail of the monies allocated for the COVID-19 pandemic showed they ended up in private pockets with some of the health workers using the period to make illicit money.
For instance, our investigation uncovered how health workers collected bribes and issued COVID-19 cards without vaccination. A development that showed how health-related issues are being taken for granted in Nigeria.
Apart from the numerous deaths as a result of Nigeria’s public health crisis, in the first quarter of 2023, the country spent $1.04 million on foreign healthcare (medical tourism).
If Nigeria’s infant mortality rate of 59.181 deaths per 1000 live births, and maternal mortality rate of over 917 per 100 000 live births does not worry us, we are in a bigger mess.
A country like Nigeria which is recording huge deaths as a result of collapsed healthcare with 31,000 PHCs already collapsed, cannot be seen to brag about meeting the SDGs (Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-being).
Nigeria must immediately begin to address the crisis in the health sector, the consequences of the public healthcare crisis are a huge price we cannot pay.
COVID-19 has shown the importance of investing in public health, and if Nigeria ignores the lessons learned during the period and refuses to make huge investments in public health, the West may not help us in the time of massive public health crisis as seen during the pandemic.