Prioritise health sector – Stakeholders advises Buhari

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LAGOS – Some stakeholders in the health sector on Thursday advised the President-elect, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, give priority to the health sector to raise the country’s GDP.

They specifically urged the incoming administration to make maternal and child health a priority in order to reduce incidences of maternal and child mortality.

The stakeholders in a Media Engagement themed: “Putting Health Issues on the Election Front Burner in Lagos state’’, said that it would also help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5.

Mr Avoseh Hodewu-Suru, Chairman, House Committee on Health, Lagos state House of Assembly, said that health were very critical in any society as it had to do with human lives.

“Health services should be put in the front burner and I will task the incoming government to even do more than the current administration had done.

“Access to healthcare delivery should start from the Primary Health Centres (PHC).

“But due to apathy by some local government councils, most of the responsibilities have been shifted to the state and federal government.

“Lagos state has done a lot in the primary health level to reduce maternal and child mortality,’’ he said.

Hodewu stressed that the programme must be propelled by individuals that are well grounded in health matters.

“More qualified medical personnel have been stationed in the primary health facilities as well as the inauguration of Maternal and Childcare Centres (MCCs).

“Again, the idea of flagship PHCs came up and it was decided that all the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs must have at least one PHC, now we have about six flagship centres fully completed and handed over to their LGs.

“I would appeal to those that are going to be elected into offices, to build from what is already in place and make healthcare delivery to be effective, safe and accessible,’’ he said.

In the same vein, Mr Ayo Adebusoye, an Attorney at Law and a steering committee member of the Lagos State Partnership (LACSOP), said that healthcare delivery was vital.

“The health sector is a critical area.

“LACSOP, its technical partner, Innovation Matters and other Civil Society actors in the health sector reiterate that those to be elected treat health issues with topmost priority.

“With special focus on mothers and children.

“During the third Nigerian Planning (NFP) Conference the Federal of Health launched the Nigeria’s Family Planning (FP) blueprint.

“The goal of the Blueprint is to increase the usage of FP from 15 per cent to 36 per cent by 2018.

“To achieve this ambitious national goal, Lagos must eliminate barriers to FP use and increase contraceptive prevalence from 48 per cent to 74 per cent.

“One of the key barriers to access for women in Lagos is the out-of-pocket cost of consumables, including the burden of personally paying for gloves, surgical blades and gauze and cotton wool.

“If the government of Lagos funds the provision of consumables in support of the FP blueprint, it will save the lives of mothers and children while promoting savings and economic growth,’’ he said.

Adebusoye added that the funding of FP consumables to achieve its target of Nigeria’s FP blueprint, it would enable the authorities in Lagos to avert over 700,000 unintended pregnancies.

According to him, it would also prevent 79,000 abortion cases, save the lives of over 2,300 mothers, 28,000 children, as well as save more than N11 billion in healthcare costs in Lagos.

According to him, “every one Naira spent on more effective methods, including implants and Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) or coils, could save over N1,358 in near-term health costs.

Meanwhile, Mr Ayodele Adesanmi, Media Officer, Development Communications Network/NOT AGAIN Campaign, commended some achievements in the health sector by the present administration.

“The present administration has some laudable achievements such as the “Abiye Project’’ in Ondo, Midwives Service Scheme SURE-P, National Health Act, which is awaiting implementation.

“The building of Maternal Health facilities and Flagship centres are also very commendable,’’ he said.

Adesanmi advised that best practices in the health sector should be sustained.

He called for the speedy implementation of the 2014 National Health bill and an increase in funding for health to be committed to 15 per cent of the national budget as previously agreed.

“Any incoming administration should also encourage unfettered access to maternal health, by removing barriers to access compulsory blood donation, high cost of health services, power and inadequate drugs.

“The new government should also put the requisite mechanism in place to monitor and enforce quality services in health facilities.

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“Adopt best practices that have been confirmed to reduce maternal deaths and work towards achieving FP 2020 target, of 36 per cent contraception prevalence rate,’’ Adesanmi said. (NAN)

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