Emenoge Michael is the Chief Executive Officer of Weierstrass Micheal Universal Solutions Company Limited. He also manages the Providian Medical Centre in Kano State.
In his interview with Inside Business Africa, he shares his opinion on the constraints facing the healthcare sector and how adequate finance and capacity will ensure efficient resource deployment in the sector.
As a healthcare professional, what is your current assessment of the Nigerian healthcare sector.
Well I would say we still have a very long distance to cover, In relation to other economies that is.
We have policies well thought out but poorly implemented.
The major problem however is a lack of adequate funding to drive growth, There are other problems though; inadequate manpower, inadequately trained practitioners available, low capacity utilization, poorly equipped medical facilities, poor maintenance culture, lack of technical support for equipment, lack of technical manpower, bureaucratic bottlenecks, ill-advised purchase of medical equipment, low purchasing power of the general populace in the public sector a more pronounced incidence of systemic corruption it goes on and on.
How Effective has the NHIS Scheme National health insurance (NHIS) how effective is it to the country and how can it be accessed?
Well the NHIS is supposed to fill a coverage gap but is bedeviled by the usual corrupt practice associated with most government agencies.
In general we still have teething problems with the implementation of the NHIS scheme with so much intrigues and scheming going on around the scheme and its management.
The infrastructure deficit in the health care sector is a hindrance to increasing quality of life and improving patient welfare among Nigerians
What can be done to address this situation?
Well the first thing that comes to mind will be funding. For me, however it has to be efficient and proper deployment of funds because there will always be a funding deficit.
First steps will be in terms of policies geared at making it easier for the private sector to access funds at reasonably priced cost from whatever legitimate source.
Accessing funds from the financial institutions presently is almost impossible.
Financial Institutions generally do not appreciate the peculiarities of the healthcare industry, so if for instance we have more robust interactions between providers, policy formulators and financial institutions, that would be a good starting point.
Private sector should be better equipped to drive the industry and therefore need to be empowered financially to deploy resources.
Again, we have to get things right with the NHIS scheme because good, quality state of the art services come at a huge cost and it will be pretty unfair to expect investors to bear the brunt of subsidizing costs because sometimes when the services are available, the patient is actually unable to access them because it’s not affordable, also the government can do more In terms of tax reduction or removal for medical equipment.
Even regulation is so oppressive that it is becoming untenable for some.
Access to quality and affordable healthcare is one of the challenges affecting the health care sector with professionals facing inadequately remunerated, what are the steps to be taken to address this situation?
The problem is that we do not really produce anything tangible in terms of medical equipment in Nigeria so there is a great burden on government and service providers when it comes to providing quality services that are the same time affordable.
In advanced economies where these equipment are manufactured, providers mostly rent equipment and they are able to break even because they serve a financially empowered population.
Remuneration is a function of what is available within the operating environment so once the system is able to attract more funding and is run more efficiently although even as we speak, healthcare practitioners in Nigeria have a comparatively better deal than most in terms of remuneration,
Prospective measures to improve the healthcare include orientation and re-orientation, training and retraining, improving teaching environments, proper remuneration, instituting proper penalty measures against erring professionals, Provision of adequate working tools and equipment, adequate staffing of facilities because in most cases staff and facilities and resources are overstretched, I could go on and on.
In general all parties involved should be held accountable for whatever roles they have to play and the pay system should be reviewed to reflect input in terms of productivity.
For the providers, proper corporate governance measures should be instituted to check excesses of executives, Institutional framework for Quality assurance, feedback mechanisms and reviews properly assessed and acted on to drive improved service delivery in terms of quality and efficiency.
For personal healthcare, what can you advocate for people at home?
Well for people at home there are so many online platforms available these days and I would advise caution in adherence to what is advised, mostly health is personal what works for A may not work for B and vice-versa so it is advisable to determine what works for you for food and drugs
Mostly avoid self-help in critical situations because it’s always better from the practitioner.
Always watch the numbers for vitals, food and drug administration, eat healthy and exercise regularly and ensure adequate intake of water, ensure that the body and mind get adequate rest. See a doctor when necessary and try if possible to undergo routine medical checks at least once a year where permissible.