For so long, Nigeria’s healthcare has been a source of concern for many. Plagued with many challenges, there has consistently been inadequate dialogue in trying to solve these challenges. Discussions on improving healthcare in Nigeria have most times been similar to trying to navigate a high concrete wall.
Hence, on the 15th of May 2018, CNBC Africa, and Forbes Africa, one of Africa’s foremost business magazine, with the support of Philips, one of the world’s leading health technology development companies, all came together to facilitate a dialogue between both public and private shareholders in Nigeria’s health sector.
The Future of Health summit, held for the first time in Nigeria, featured discussions on The State of Healthcare In Nigeria, and how technology could facilitate solutions to healthcare challenges.
The summit was anchored by CNBC’s Fifi Peters and began with a scene-setter from Kunle Elebute, National Senior Partner, KPMG Nigeria, and Chairman, KPMG Africa. He spoke extensively on the need for partnerships between both private and public sectors to ensure equitable healthcare in Nigeria. By harnessing the capacity of private healthcare practice in Nigeria, the government can fill the voids in the public sector.
He also encouraged the Nigerian government to implement the Universal Health Coverage. “Implementing the Universal Health Coverage will make a huge impact on the Nigerian populace. Nigerian Government should form partnerships, with Pharmaceutical companies and companies like Philips, to implement the UHC. Health coverage is not only about Doctors and Nurses.” he said.
The scene setter from Mr Elebute was followed by a key note address delivered by healthcare futurist Michael Jackson. He spoke about how technology could bridge the yawning gap in Nigeria’s health sector, and deliver healthcare solutions to many Nigerians. He advised healthcare professionals in Nigeria to think more digital in delivering solutions.
He also advised Nigerians to get rid of the negativity surrounding improving healthcare in Nigeria. “We need to create true purpose in Nigeria healthcare, and to do that, all stakeholders must look forward, and not backward, into the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel” he said.
A panel made up of the CEO of Philips Africa Jasper Westerink, Lagos state Commissioner of Health Dr Jide Idris, President of the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria Dr Claire Omatseye, and the Martins Ifijeh, head of This Day newspapers’ Health-desk, also discussed the role of technology in the transformation of healthcare in Nigeria.
Mr Westerink spoke about Philips Africa’s dedication to, besides providing important healthcare technology, educating people on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle would reduce the incidence of diseases that require complex treatment. He also encouraged placing more emphasis on the Primary Healthcare system in Nigeria, saying that access to technology would reduce the burden placed on these health centres.
When he spoke, Mr Ifijeh talked extensively about the need for prioritization by the Nigerian government of more budget allocation to healthcare provision in Nigeria. “The brain drain of Doctors can be stopped if there is a political will to fund health in Nigeria,” he said.
He also encouraged the Nigerian government to implement the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), by making it a necessity for the Nigerian populace and not an option. “Nigeria and Ghana began the implementation of the UHC together a few years ago. Now, Ghana is on 40% coverage, while Nigeria is on 4%. The Nigerian Government is not doing enough.” he further added.
Mrs Omatseye encouraged more partnerships so as to deliver affordable healthcare to people. She mentioned some challenges facing the healthcare sector including financing and access to capital as well as the importance of collaboration with sectors outside healthcare in order to deliver viable solutions. She also echoed Mr Ifijeh’s opinion that the Nigerian government needs to make the UHC a necessity.
Healthcare philanthropist Toyin Saraki, founder of Well-being foundation spoke extensively about the need to go local when trying to analyse healthcare solutions that need to be delivered to Nigerians. Mrs Saraki, who is also the Newborn Champion for Save the Children Nigeria and was the inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives in 2014, spoke on her advocacy through her foundation to reduce maternal and child mortality in Nigeria.
She credited her successes to the information she gleaned from midwives in many of Nigeria’s Primary Healthcare Centers. “They say all politics is local,” she said, “but I say all health solutions are local too.”
Yesterday’s discussions emphasized the need for more partnerships between the private and public sectors in Nigeria regarding healthcare and also proved that the Nigerian government needs to do more to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all.