Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire, has said the country does not have enough primary health care centres for its citizens.
He said the country has barely one-third of Primary Health Centres (PHC) required to provide quality health services to the people.
Mr Ehanire, while speaking at the Ministerial Health Sector Media Engagement on Monday, said there were plans to address the challenges of PHCs and bring healthcare closer to every Nigerian.
He noted that the government is committed to ensuring there is a functional primary healthcare centre in each political ward in the country.
“The Next Level Agenda Strategy aims to revitalise one PHC in each political ward.
“We have barely one-third of the required 9,855 PHCs, which define Universal Health Care, to bring health closer to the people and begin to address Nigeria’s horrendous health indices,” he said.
PHC system in Nigeria is dogged by multiple challenges despite concerted efforts. This is largely because billions of naira, reportedly spent over the decades on health facilities by the government at different levels, were mismanaged.
Again, there is an element of misplaced priority.
While hundreds of PHCs lie in waste, governments have continued to build more across the country without any plan for sustaining and equipping them.
Because of such shortfalls, President Muhammadu Buhari, in January 2017, flagged-off a scheme to revitalise about 10,000 PHCs across Nigeria.
But little work has been done as many PHCs still lack basic facilities.
Mr Ehanire said the next level agenda also targets to reduce health-related gaps in Sustainable Development Goals by 60 per cent.
Mr Ehanire noted that the ministry intends to achieve its objectives through the implementation of the expanded PHC service, mandatory health insurance and the operationalisation of the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance system.
“Our ministry is responsible for the National Health System and its performance. It provides strategic support to states local government areas, the private sector and development partners,” he said.
The minister noted that the COVID-19 pandemic presented the opportunity to restructure the country’s health system.
He said although Nigeria’s health system has not fared badly, it still needs to be re-examined.
“All countries will no doubt be reexamining their Health systems which is why it has been said that the COVID-19 outbreak offers an opportunity to restructure, or even rebuild health systems,” he said.