Nigeria needs community medicine not Primary healthcare for better health services

A pubic health expert, Professor Michael Asuzu, has said the proper practice of community medicine remains pivotal to attainment of maximum possible health for Nigerians even as Nigeria’s Primary Health Care(PHC) service remains nonfunctional.

Asuzu, an adjunct professor of Public Health, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, stated that community medicine is all about ensuring that everyone living in a community attains the maximum level of health possible for them.

He stated that Nigeria is not yet practising community medicine, as it entails taking healthcare back to the community where the people are and helping them, working within the system that had allowed them to survive.

Asuzu said: “Community medicine is the specialisation in the medical profession that combines all the otherwise vertical public health enterprises with all essential clinical medicine and surgery in any locality.

“It delivers them integrated, horizontally and vertically, to the people in a community.  We are not yet doing community medicine, and that is where we should be going. That is where Nigeria should go because that is primary health care.

”Everybody knows that a national health system that is based on a functional PHC does not exist; it is a waste of time. In Nigeria, we only have vertical public health programmes.

“PHC is not a political issue; it is not an instrument for collecting foreign money and misappropriating it. It is going to where people are and helping them, and working within the system that has allowed them to survive until today.

“There is nothing that you are telling them that they did not know, but organise and support them to make sure that everybody lives at a maximum level of health. That is what it is supposed to be.”

Professor Asuzu said it is a misconception to assume that community medicine or community health equates to public health and can be used interchangeably in every circumstance.

He declared that community health, a combination of community medicine, community nursing and community midwifery, is also different from community-oriented practices that are health facility-based but merely community visiting.

Professor Asuzu declared, “Obviously, without correcting those past errors in the most win-win manner, the Nigerian PHC system will remain undo able; take it or leave it!”

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