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Wike calls for better investment in health sector to end medical tourism

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Wike calls for better investment in health sector to end medical tourism
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Wike calls for better investment in health sector to end medical tourism

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has called for better investment in the health sector of the nation to put to end medical tourism.

Wike emphasized that the country just as a matter of urgency strengthen public health institutions because adding that Nigerians who cannot afford medical treatment overseas don’t deserve to die.

He opined that it is the primary responsibility of any government to ensure equitable access to basic healthcare for the citizens, especially the poor and most vulnerable in society.

Wike spoke after inspecting the ongoing construction work at the multibillion Naira, Dr Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre; the Basic Clinical Sciences and Clinical Sciences, the Renal and Pathology Departments for the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, yesterday.

He said the state government’s huge investment in the tertiary hospital and public health infrastructure is aimed at making the State the hub for medical tourism in the country.

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Wike insisted that any government that recognises the centrality of public health and its critical role in nation building, would prioritise strengthening the public health institutions so that those who cannot afford to seek medical treatment overseas don’t die.

He said: “How many people can afford traveling overseas. We have all it takes to improve on our health sector, to provide the necessary facilities. We have our doctors, all we need to do is training and retraining them. Look at Government House Hospital (Port Harcourt), look at how people troop in there, because the basic facilities are there and the doctors are willing, committed to work because of the environment they have found themselves.

“If you give our people the required environment and give them the facilities, the tools to work, there is no need for us travelling to overseas. When people come to Government House Clinic, they look at the facilities and say is it not what we see overseas. So we can replicate it here in Nigeria.”

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Wike calls for better investment in health sector to end medical tourism

He remarked that government must make it a priority to provide incentives and creation of an enabling environment that can help ensure that doctors and other medical experts do their job well.

“So my own motivation is that if I have the opportunity to travel overseas, what about others who does not have the opportunity to travel overseas. Must they die simply because they don’t have the opportunity? It is the obligation of the government to make sure that our citizens are given the best in terms of protecting their lives. It is the responsibility of the government to protect lives.

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“So for me, it is our responsibility and so we must do everything we can to see that we save the lives of our people by making sure that our healthcare delivery system is working and the doctors are also given the best for them to work,” he said.

Governor Wike described the quality of work at the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, as very satisfactory, disclosing that the contractor, Julius Berger, is working assiduously to meet the deadline for the completion the project.

He further said the State government is not owing the contractors handling the Renal Centre, Pathology Department, Basic Clinical Sciences or the Clinical Sciences buildings of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital. He charged the institution to ensure that all the contractors work towards the completion of the project by May 2022.

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UNICEF Decry Uneven Distribution Covid Vaccines Across the World

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UNICEF Decry Uneven Distribution Covid Vaccines Across the World
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UNICEF Decry Uneven Distribution Covid Vaccines Across the World

By Bashir Hassan Abubakar

Ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit this weekend the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has decry the glaring inequity in Covid Vaccines distribution across the world, saying that G20 countries have received 15 times more COVID-19 vaccine doses per capita than countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

This assertion, which was contained in a press statement signed and issued by Nchekwube Nwosu-Igbo, UNICEF’s Communication Assistant, said that an analysis, conducted by science analytics company Airfinity, exposes the severity of vaccine inequity between high-income and low-income countries, especially in Africa.

It went further to say that doses delivered to G20 countries per capita are: 15 times higher than doses delivered per capita to sub-Saharan African countries;15 times higher than doses delivered per capita to low-income countries and 3 times higher than doses delivered per capita in all other countries combined.

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“Vaccine inequity is not just holding the poorest countries back – it is holding the world back. As leaders meet to set priorities for the next phase of the COVID-19 response, it is vital they remember that, in the COVID vaccine race, we either win together, or we lose together”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

According to the statement, wealthy countries with more supplies than they need have generously pledged to donate these doses to low and middle-income countries but, that these promised doses are moving too slowly, with only 194 million doses have been provided out of the 1.3 billion additional doses pledged by these countries with excess.

UNICEF further said that African countries in particular have largely been left without access to COVID-19 vaccines. Less than 5 per cent of the African population are fully vaccinated, leaving many countries at high-risk of further outbreaks.

The world body said that, as leaders prepare to meet for the G20 Summit in Rome this weekend, 48 UNICEF Africa ambassadors and supporters from across the continent have united in an open letter, calling for leaders to honour their promises to urgently deliver doses, writing that “the stakes could not be higher.”

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The letter’s signatories, including Angelique Kidjo, Arlo Parks, Davido, Tendai Mtawarira, Femi Kuti, Tony Elumelu, Ramla Ali, Kate Henshaw, Winnie Byanyima and others, are calling on leaders to donate the pledged vaccines by December, along with the necessary resources to turn the vaccines into vaccinations.

“Every day Africa remains unprotected, pressure builds on fragile health systems where there can be one midwife for hundreds of mothers and babies,” the letter reads.

“As the pandemic causes a spike in child malnutrition, resources are diverted from life-saving health services and childhood immunization. Children already orphaned risk losing grandparents. Disaster looms for sub-Saharan African families, four out of five of whom rely on the informal sector for their daily bread. Poverty threatens children’s return to school, protection from violence and child marriage.”

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UNICEF said, according to WHO, some 80,000 to 180,000 healthcare workers globally are estimated to have died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 2021. Less than 1 in 10 healthcare workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated and more than 128,000 have been infected with the virus. The agency has also found only one in seven COVID-19 infections are detected in Africa due to limited testing, meaning the true number is likely much higher.

“Saving lives in Africa starts by saving the lives of the life-savers,” said Fore.

“Too many communities on the African continent were already grappling with stressed healthcare systems. They cannot go into another year of this global crisis enduring so many preventable deaths and prolonged sickness.”

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FG Budgets ₦2,178 For Each Citizen’s Healthcare In 2022

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FG Budgets ₦2,178 For Each Citizen’s Healthcare In 2022
Minister Of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire
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FG Budgets ₦2,178 For Each Citizen’s Healthcare In 2022

Despite the importance of the health sector, LEADERSHIP investigation revealed that the Federal Ministry of Health received the sum of Over N1.385.36trillion in the last three years (2019 to 2021).

A breakdown of the budget in the past three years (2019-2021) shows that N6,534 was budgeted for each citizen, indicating N2,178 per citizen in a year, based on the 2021 proposed population of the country.

Only four to five percent of the country’s total budget is allocated to health annually, against the Abuja Declaration of 15 percent budget allocation to health in 2001.

In 2001, heads of state of African Union (AU) countries met in Abuja and committed to prioritise the health sector by allocating at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to the sector.

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FG Budgets ₦2,178 For Each Citizen’s Healthcare In 2022

Now 20 years after this commitment, which Nigeria was part of, countries like Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Swaziland, Togo and the Central African Republic have since met this target.

Nigeria has not even been able to allocate half of the expected 15 per cent in these 20 years.

LEADERSHIP gathered that recurrent expenditure got about N1.93trillion while capital expenditure got N240bn in the years in question.

In 2019, for instance, of the total budget of N8.9 trillion, as contained in the Budget Office of the Federation document, the sum of N423.92 billion, representing 4.75 per cent of the budget, was allocated to health.

In 2021, of the total budget of N13.82 trillion, the sum of N546.98billion, or 4.18 per cent of the budget, was allocated to health: N380.21billion went to recurrent expenditure and N35.03billion to BHCPF, bringing the total recurrent expenditure to N415.24billion, while N131.74 billion was meant for capital expenditure.

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This indicates that a large percentage of the health budget goes to salaries, pensions and overheads while only a fraction is allocated to investment in healthcare facilities, equipment and other infrastructure.

Experts in the health sector have blamed low budgetary allocation for the deplorable state of the country’s health sector. They, however, linked corruption and poor utilisation of the little money provided as major challenges.

“It is true that the budgetary allocation is very low. It’s a shame, but the truth is that even the utilisation, the proper application and judicious utilisation of the little provided, is a huge problem. That is what people call corruption, but I don’t call it corruption, I call it stealing.”

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Also, a reproductive health expert, Dr. Ejike Orji, identified corruption and lack of accountability as another challenge confronting the sector, saying even the little that is allocated is diverted.

According to him, a research by Bill and Melinda Gates on public health financing showed that out of every N100 that was meant for the health sector, only 40 per cent was spent while 60 per cent was stolen.

“ people are dying unnecessary in the country. ““People are dying on a daily basis. In the past week I have counted people who have died who on a good day wouldn’t have died, and the reason is that the healthcare response to their needs was very poor.

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FG Sets To Establish Numerous Covid19 Vaccination Sites In Nigeria

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FG Sets To Establish Numerous Covid19 Vaccination Sites In Nigeria
President Buhari leading by example
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FG Sets To Establish Numerous Covid19 Vaccination Sites In Nigeria

*Nigeria least committed in W-Africa to tackling inequality amid Covid-19

The Federal Government has said plans were on the way to set up mass vaccination centres across the country.
This came as Nigeria was ranked as the worst performing country in West Africa in the global effort to defeat inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the Federal Government has been charged to invest massively in public education, health and social protection, to tackle poverty, joblessness and other inequalities.

The Federal Government explained that the development was in line with the commitment to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this during a press conference he held to update Nigerians on the country’s current COVID-19 vaccination status, yesterday.

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He said: “The objective of this strategy is to vaccinate a high volume of individuals through large sites such as federal institutions (universities, polytechnics), shopping malls, religious centers, sporting events, conference centers, and markets etc.

“This will require strong collaboration between NPHCDA, state governments, religious bodies, school authorities and governing bodies of malls and large sporting events.”

“As we expand the vaccination sites, we encourage all eligible Nigerians to avail themselves for vaccination.

FG Sets To Establish Numerous Covid19 Vaccination Sites In Nigeria

“I am also glad to inform you that we have commenced the process of decentralizing COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, to include private health care providers.

“This is to expand access and increase utilization of the vaccines,” he added.

Shuaib disclosed that as of the time of the briefing, “A total of 5,246,523 eligible populations have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

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“This represents 4.7 percent of our target population.

“The number of eligible persons fully vaccinated in Nigeria is 2,546,094 which represents 2.3 percent of our target population,” he said.

Nigeria least committed in W/Africa to tackling inequality amid Covid-19

Meanwhile, the 2021 Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, CRII, which ranks Nigeria last among the 16 countries of the Economic Community of West African Countries, ECOWAS, and second to the last in Africa (45th out of 46 countries), based its verdict on the nation’s very low spending on education, health and extremely limited and poor quality public services, amid high taxation.

The CRI Index which was developed and delivered through a partnership between Finance International and Oxfam International, with inputs from independent experts, ranked the Nigerian government 157th out of 158 countries on commitment to reducing inequality in areas of education, health and social protection; taxation; and, workers’ rights.

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From the Index, Nigeria has the 5th highest income inequality among the 15 ECOWAS countries including Mauritania.

But the country was “woefully unprepared as COVID-19 hit, spending only five percent of its budget on health and leaving more than 40 percent of Nigerians with no access to universal health services.”

In a response to the development, the country Director of Oxfam Nigeria Dr Victor Ahonsi, charged the Federal Government to invest massively in public education, health and social protection, to tackle poverty, joblessness and other inequalities amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the 2021 Tax Summit held in Abuja, the Country Director, Oxfam Nigeria, Dr Vincent Ahonsi, said Nigeria’s poor commitment towards reduction of poverty and inequality was worrisome.

Vanguardngr.com

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