The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria says many Nigerians are still living in denial of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the daily growing global casualty and cases. The PSN while also appraising the health sector as Nigeria celebrates its 60th Independence Anniversary lamented that the country has failed to consolidate on its Ebola containment success of 2014.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH Healthwise, the PSN President, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa stated that the health sector still has a long way to go in terms of meeting set targets.
“When we fought Ebola in 2014, you can see the level of success that we achieved. Unfortunately, we didn’t build on that. That notwithstanding, I want to applaud Nigeria and Africa, as a whole, for managing the outbreak of the COVID-19 very well.
“They didn’t lower their guard in terms of COVID-19 messages and awareness campaigns which I think was good. But we must also admit that it was not because of our efforts. Though we tried God was just gracious to us. To date, many Nigerians still believe COVID-19 was a hoax and keep moving around without a care,” he said.
While acknowledging that the six-decade journey has seen the country built more hospitals and train more health professionals, Ohuabunwa noted that Nigeria was yet to attain the status of a nation with a viable health sector. He explained that an effective health sector is measured in terms of life expectancy rate, infant and maternal mortality and other health targets.
“We are not there yet. It is not about massaging egos. What health targets exactly did we set for our life expectancy, maternal mortality, infant mortality, infectious diseases, malaria elimination, access and affordability of health care and universal healthcare coverage?
“Yes, we have built a few more hospitals and train more doctors, nurses, medical laboratory scientists and pharmacists. These are mere activities, not a success. True achievements are measured by results,” he stated. Ohuabunwa says the health sector has performed poorly, noting that the quality of life of the average Nigerian can be better with the right motivation and purposeful leaders.
“Overall, we are behind our target. When you are behind your target, you either score yourself 40 per cent or 49 per cent. The truth remains that we are still far from satisfactory performance.
“When I was a young boy still in school, I had access to primary health care so readily. It didn’t cost me money and my parents also didn’t spend anything on medicare.
“Today, we spend money and the health insurance that we started about 20 years ago haven’t achieved up to 10 per cent coverage. What is wrong with us? It is difficult for me to explain,” he said.
He encouraged the federal government to focus on creating universal health coverage where every Nigerian can access affordable and genuine medicines health care through health insurance.
“That is when we can say we are making meaningful progress. That is what we should aim at. That should be our focus,” he urged.