Functional primary healthcare our goal —FG

Towards making healthcare delivery accessible to all and sundry in the country, the Federal Government, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and its Ministry of Health, is making efforts to ensure the availability of, at least, one functional Primary Health Care (PHC) centre in each political ward in the country.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole, made this disclosure in Ibadan, on Thursday, in his keynote address delivered at the opening ceremony of the 11th annual scientific conference and All Fellows’ Congress of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.

In the address read on his behalf by the Chief Medical Director (CMD), University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Professor Temitope Alonge, the minister said the initiative became imperative in view of the focus of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to make the PHC the entry point into healthcare system.

He explained that “a health system where citizens bypass the primary healthcare level and access care directly from the tertiary level cannot sustain equity and efficiency,” adding that, “based on this, it is hoped that within the next five years, the government will be able to renovate and make fully functional 10,000 PHCs in Nigeria.”

Professor Adewole stated further that the Federal Government was working with the states to develop their health systems and work closely with the Federal Ministry of Health to have a national health system that was well integrated.

“From the demand side, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is working with the states in a policy of decentralisation of health insurance implementation to the states, which is believed to be the right response to the Federal structure with states having constitutional power to legislate on health.

“When fully implemented, this will see the states using the social health insurance mechanism to finance their health systems, which is more efficient, equitable and transparent. At the end, NHIS will transmute into an agency to integrate and regulate the overall health insurance system in Nigeria”, the Minister added.

Delivering a lecture with the title ‘Dental Tourism Inflow: A Veritable Tool For Economic Development’ at the congress with the theme ‘Health Care Financing For Sustainable Development’, the guest speaker, Prof. Jelili Adisa Akinwande expressed the view that dental tourism could become another means of generating income for the country.

The former Dean, Faculty of Dental Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos (UNILAG) declared that Nigeria can generate up to N100billion annually from just one world class specialist dental oral and maxillofacial surgery hospital which will cost a meagre N6.54 billion.

Akinwande lamented high rate of number of Nigerians going abroad for dental care despite the availability of the necessary and needed facilities in the country.

He disclosed that “there are nine dental schools with eight of them located in teaching hospitals with fair share of specialists by disciplines as well as fair spread of teaching hospitals”, noting that accessing dental care locally would increase domestic saving.