By Abujah Racheal
Abuja – Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta says Patient-Centred Care (PCC) remains a viable option for the improvement of health care delivery in the country.
Okowa made this assertion in his keynote address at the second National Health Summit, organised by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), on Tuesday in Abuja.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the theme of the summit is “Patient Centered Care.”
He said that PCC had great potential to produce much better outcomes in a cost-efficient manner, reduce system errors and increase patient satisfaction.
The governor said this would radically alter the current unfavourable perception of the Nigeria healthcare system delivery by majority of the public.
While speaking on the necessity for expansion to access and functionality of Nigeria health institutions, he stressed the need for healthcare providers and teams to be more committed to their duties.
“We must practise with some reasonable level of integrity, ensuring that the voice of the patient and family is not silenced. In consonance with the Physician Pledge, our patients ought to be respected and treated fairly.
“Saving lives is not just the cure of an ailment, but the total wellbeing of the patient, who must be a friend and partner in the healthcare process,” he said.
Okowa said that even more compelling was the need for a clear strategy and the establishment of patient-centred governance systems where PCC was the business of everybody in the organisation.
“The structure must be such that encourages the participation of all while enabling the patient to fully share in the decision-making process.
“The PCC model is enhanced when roles of team members are clearly spelt out in a way that is empowering and invites accountability,” he said.
He noted that globally, the PCC model was emerging as a key dimension to providing quality healthcare. Hence, enhancing the patient experiences and delivering patient-centred care was on the agenda of virtually every country today.
He stressed that with the increasing knowledge and awareness amongst populations in developed countries, PCC was gaining grounds as a model of preferred care.
” It has taken centre stage in discussions on quality healthcare as it promotes flexibility in healthcare provision and creates partnerships that are beneficial to the healthcare providers, patients and families,” he said.
According to Okowa, when it comes to PCC in Nigeria, many questions are begging for answers.
“Are we prepared as a nation and as healthcare providers to embrace this transformational approach to healthcare delivery? Is the human resource available and adequate for this system of care?
“How accessible and affordable is healthcare to our growing population, most of who fall below the poverty line? What is the percentage of Nigerians still paying out-of-pocket for healthcare?
“Is the healthcare provider warm or welcoming? Do the health staff inspire trust and confidence in the ability of the health establishments to deliver quality healthcare leading to patient’s satisfaction,” he questioned.
He, however, said that anyone who had lived in Nigeria long enough and has had to visit the Nigerian hospitals had at one time or the other experienced the dismissive attitude of many of healthcare providers especially those in the front office.
According to him, some have acquired notoriety for being harsh and unsympathetic to those they are meant to serve.
“Instead of regarding them as persons that need to be treated with respect and dignity, they tend to be perceived as burdensome.
“Also, do our doctors create the enabling environment and time to truly interact and adequately engage the patient? Is the patient allowed to tell his/her story, let alone allowing the family to participate in care giving,” he again questioned.
The governor said that suggestions and opinions of the patient or relations were considered an affront and treated with resentment by doctors and other health staff.
He said that the shortcoming on the part of the doctor and other health workers leads to the perception that the system does not really care, except where it concerns the rich and powerful.
“Empathy is key on the part of the professionals in the healthcare industry to ensure the best patient experiences and expectations of quality service,” he said.
The representative of President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Enahire, said that leadership was not about taking care of personal interest but seeking the common good of all.
Buhari said that NMA should partner with the Federal Ministry of Health, (FHOM), to review the Nigerian health care system delivery system.
NAN reports that the NMA recognised Okowa’s effort towards providing Basic Health Care Development Fund (BHCDF), to Deltans, which has been largely achieved through the State’s Contributory Health Insurance Scheme.
The scheme seeks to enroll at least 500,000 Deltans by 2023.
Meanwhile on the sidelines, the investiture of the new Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), President, Dr Osahon Enabulele, Consultant Family Physician, emerged as the President of CMA.
Enabulele, the first Nigerian to become the CMA president.
NAN recalls that CMA was founded in 1962 and made up of NMA from at least 42 Commonwealth countries from the various continents, including United Kingdom, South Africa, Nigeria, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, and India.