BY Dr. Adaeze Oreh
One of the most pressing challenges in African healthcare delivery has been the non-prioritisation of primary healthcare delivery. For many African populations, a substantial proportion of the populace live in rural and remote locations, making accessible patient and community-based healthcare delivery of the utmost necessity. By neglecting to prioritise this level of healthcare delivery, the continent has left a substantial segment of her population vulnerable to many of the communicable and non-communicable diseases that are responsible for the poor health outcomes we observe in the region.
In Nigeria, nearly 60 per cent of the country’s 200 million people live in rural areas with little or no access to primary healthcare. This means that most people receive poor treatment or no treatment at all for road traffic accidents, malaria, HIV, chest infections, heart disease, diabetes, and complications from pregnancy and childbirth. These ailments, which are Nigeria’s leading causes of death, are almost all preventable or treatable.
State and Federal governments should commit to investing at least 15 per cent of future national budgets on health and 60 per cent of that total on primary care. As citizens, it is our responsibility to insist that keeping the goal of affordable, universal healthcare at the top of the agenda by leaders.
Dr. Oreh is a consultant family physician and Country Head of Planning, Research and Statistics for Nigeria’s National Blood Transfusion Service. She is also an Amujae Leader and Senior Fellow for Global Health with the Aspen Institute in Washington D.C.