An online survey administered by one of the world’s leading health technology companies, Philips Africa has shown that while only 52 percent of Nigerians actually trust the Nigerian healthcare system, 36 percent of Nigerians believe their health needs are being met by the health system. The survey was carried out on 503 Nigerians, with the aim of discovering what the future of health in Nigeria looks like, and the gaps that will need to be filled.
The survey results were released in Lagos yesterday at Philips’ ‘The Future of Health’ summit in association with Forbes and CNBC Africa, where eminent speakers shared their insights and case studies on “The State of Healthcare in Nigeria.”
With the furor surrounding the state of healthcare in Nigeria presently, the survey seemed to focus attention on the wide gap between the reality now regarding healthcare, and the expectations of Nigerians regarding the country’s health sector.
Other key discoveries from the report show that 65 percent of Nigerians have the opinion that improved access to health facilities would make them more effective in managing their health, while 52 percent think keeping track of health indicators would make them manage their health effectively. 82 percent of Nigerians believe that patient outcomes will be improved by the National Health Insurance Policy.
The survey also showed that there is an over reliance on hospitals for non-urgent medical issues that can easily be addressed at Primary Healthcare Centers (P.H.C). This could easily be attributed to the poor state of Nigerian PHCs, a situation which inadvertently puts more pressure on Tertiary Healthcare Centers.
On the results of the survey, Jasper Westerink, CEO of Philips Africa said that they show the need for preventive healthcare. “This study highlights the need for a greater focus on preventive healthcare for a sustainable health system, especially given the prevalence of lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The results also reinforce the need for the national government to invest a significant percentage of its healthcare budget towards medical research, preventive care, acute care and general health education,” he said.
He also called for more investments in technology for the health sector. “Health practitioners in Nigeria must tap in to the benefits of information technology in order to change the face of medical practice in the country and avoid being left out of global trends. Although there are good medical doctors in Nigeria, there is also a need to develop new ways of delivering healthcare like telemedicine for instance,” he concluded.
The online survey was a national representation of the online population of Nigerians, with 48 percent of respondents coming from the South West. 75 percent of respondents in the survey were aged between 18-34 years, while 80 percent of respondents live in the urban areas.
This implies that the survey is inconclusive, especially for rural areas where many of Nigeria’s PHCs are situated. There is still a need for major discussions at the local level in a manner that the growth needed in the Nigerian health sector would not only be limited to its urban areas. But to an extent, this survey has been able to construct a yardstick for changes to happen.