The Nigerian Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has called for partnership to fast-track the country’s effort to reposition the health care system in Nigeria.
The honourable minister who spoke at a sub event organised by Merck Pharmaceutical Company at the 69th World Health Assembly [WHA], lamented how medical tourism has been a drain on the country’s resources as well as the efforts that the Federal Ministry of Health was making to reverse the trend.
Merck is a renowned 125-year-old pharmaceutical company headquartered in New Jersey, USA. The company recently sold the over-the-counter part of the business to Bayer recently.
According to Adewole, nonfunctional PHCs, insufficiently equipped secondary and tertiary health institutions, among others, have progressively eroded the confidence of the public in the health sector.
And as a result, he said that the government has embarked on a programme of reviving 10,000 PHCs which would provide free access to quality care to about 100 million Nigerians, with a sound referral system in place.
In addition, he said that the Government is setting up community ownership system to get the buy in the beneficiary communities and hope to gradually restore the confidence of the people in the system.
“However, at the secondary and tertiary levels, Nigeria needs collaboration especially in providing quality care on cancer, renal and cardiac diseases, which constitute the three main areas which account for medical tourism”, Minister Adewole added.
The Minister further said that with the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammed Buhari, the business climate in Nigeria is improving and it has become safer to invest in Nigeria.
He, therefore, promised would-be collaborators that his ministry would be open, transparent, accountable and would make judicious use of funds.
He noted that the country was willing to partner with Merck to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases and reduce the quantity of fake drugs in the country.
The President of Merck, Stefan Oschmann, in his opening remarks had earlier said his organisation had been working on improving the quality of lives worldwide, but has been more involved in the eradication of Neglected Tropical Diseases [NTDs], and specifically, Schistosomiasis.
Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by flat parasitic worms that live in certain fresh water.
He said combating NTDs requires research, education and awareness creation and therefore called on all states where particular diseases are common, to integrate NTDs into national health agenda, while his organisation look out for other areas of collaboration.