Although 2017 began with the commissioning of a ‘revitalised’ Primary Health Care Center, the Ministry couldn’t achieve much because of untimely appropriation of the 2017 budget. Disease outbreaks that could well be avoided made headlines as many children and some adults got killed.
The weakness of the country’s health sector was further exposed when it witnessed shortage of vaccine to treat Meningitis. Nigerians were shocked to find out that government has all the while waited on other foreign countries for supply of vaccines which has further put the country at great risk.
Angered by the outcome of such government attitude, Experts berated the federal government for lack of emergency health preparedness.
One of them who spoke to LEADERSHIP, The Chairman, National Immunization Finance Task Team (NIFT), Dr Ben Anyene said there had been several appeal to government to allow for local production of vaccines, more especially as Global Access for Vaccine Immunization (GAVI) had started to reduce immunization grant to Nigeria, however, nothing much has been achieved.
He also said the lives of millions of children will be at risk in the next four years if the federal government fails to take charge of funding immunisation in the country.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) did not also hesitate to register it’s displeasure as it pointed out that government ought to have immunized children three months before the outbreak given the continuous climate change.
After series of persuasion, the federal government finally signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a drug manufacturing company, May & Baker to commence local production of vaccine. However, there hasn’t been any development so far as to that regard.
There has been a rebuilding of about 109 primary healthcare centers across the country, although, majority were achieved through foreign donations.
The continuous outbreak of diseases in the country also revealed how the Nigeria Center for Disease Control(NCDC), has been one of the most neglected agency in the country, as it operates only within the ministry, without adequate budget for it to be better equipped and effective.
The outbreaks especially that of meningitis and monkey pox and Ebola scare shows that the NCDC, Ministry and Nigeria’s health sector do not already have what it takes to face emergencies, should the need arise.
The Ministry also had it rough pulling through corruption crisis that rocked the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which especially included misappropriation of funds and alleged fraudulent practices by Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs)
Despite the falls, the health ministry tried tying loose ends like the launching of the family planning intervention programmes geared towards tackling maternal morbidity and mortality including making way for women to make correct choices when the need arises.
Another step taken was the offering of free medical and surgical services at federal medical centers under the Saving One Million Lives especially for women with fistula condition.
One more action worthy of commended is the commencement of routine immunisation across the country, which is expected to be completed by 2018
To wrap it up the federal government commissioned a radiotherapy machine at the National hospital which has the capacity to cater for 100 people per day.
The year did not go without the usual strike action by Resident Doctors and Health workers who are constantly fighting for their right.