The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Folorunsho Adewole is my ‘Man of the Year, 2016.’

Prof Isaac Folorunsho Adewole

He was reported to have advised poor Nigerians with certain medical conditions requiring major surgeries to visit any Federal Teaching Hospital or Medical Centre for free treatment. He had the temerity to say that people with certain conditions should go to the public hospitals and they will be treated for free. Some of those conditions are fibroids, vesico-vaginal fistulas and even operations for cleft lip and cleft palate. Apparently, he said this while visiting the newly established Kuchigoro Primary Healthcare Centre in Abuja, FCT.

He and his crew also had the balls to say that people with traumatic injuries and real life emergencies should go to any hospital and expect to be treated first without anyone asking for money. Apparently, you can just pop into any hospital after a road traffic accident or some other illness and be treated for free.

The hospital whether private or public should not ask you about your means to pay till after carrying out the treatment! They should simply put all the available resources and expertise at your disposal ensuring that you have a good outcome; thereafter they can submit a bill to the Federal Government for reimbursement.

He said these things without an iota of doubt in his mind. He did not even blink! Such acting deserves a prize and outside of winning the Oscars, an award as the ‘Man of the Year 2016’ is the most befitting prize.

Primary Healthcare

First of all, the Primary Healthcare Centre he was at was completed in record time as a political gimmick to hoodwink people that the Federal Government actually understood the ramifications of constructing thousands of new Primary Healthcare Centres in all the six geopolitical zones of the country. This flagship Primary Healthcare Centre yet to be commissioned by the President looks good on paper but will it function the very next day after the commissioning?

Forget that the government has not ensured that the host communities own and will run the facilities. The host communities must be encouraged to participate in looking after the centres, raising funds for its services and generally take control of its activities for the benefit of the locals.

Many of the hundreds of Primary Healthcare Centres in Nigeria are not functioning because the host communities do not feel that they ‘own’ them; because they were built by people who used the idea to siphon off government funds with the edifices as reminders of the loss. That these new centres will belong to the Federal Government and not the Local Government will also ensure its’ colossal failure!

Manpower

Secondly, who will run these centres? Have the doctors, midwives and nurses been trained and have they keyed into some overall scheme of referral that ensures the hapless patients get the best care they deserve: better than a trip to the local pastor or a herbalist? You see, empty buildings without manpower cannot deliver care! A house is just a house and not a home, unless there is even a dog in it.

Also, please do not forget that the ‘major operations’ for cleft lip and cleft palate, for vesico-vaginal fistula and even simple hernia operations need to be performed by trained surgeons not the Mallam in Yaba! With the incessant strike actions and cancellations of training opportunities for Resident doctors, how many new surgeons have the Government trained to carry out safe surgeries? How many new neurosurgeons were ‘ordained’ by this Government? How many new doctors do we even need per year? How many housemanship positions did the Government make available in the past year for the teeming numbers of medical school graduates? How many young doctors are roaming the streets in search of jobs as mechanics and bricklayers?

Budget allocation

Lastly, the current Health Budget allocation is not enough to treat common cold in Nigeria, let alone offer free surgeries to all the poor people who need it. Further, with the rate of accidents due to poor road conditions and lack of emergency services, asking people to present in private or even public hospitals for free emergency treatment is a joke.

Certainly, the private sector has not been carried along with this stupid plan and just because its’ in the National Health Act does not mean ‘jack’ unless it is empowered by financial might. Raise the Budget allocation for Health to 15% first so we know you are actually serious. Otherwise, please stay in 2016 and don’t bring your ‘wahala’ into the New Year.

You cannot just talk without planning! Oh, apparently, you can.

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