By NBF News
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STAKEHOLDERS in the Nigerian health sector have bemoaned lack of progress in the sector, 51 years after independence.

To the President, Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Dr. Dorothy Esangbedo, the health indices such as child mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio, and life expectancy in the past 51 years have not improved significantly, a reflection of the weak health service system of the country.

Esangbedo said the yearly national health budget has never met the demand for the scale-up of healthcare services and government's policies on the environment have not provided the needed incentives for the scale-up of private sector participation in health service delivery.

Noting that there has been a proliferation of government institutions for the training of different cadres of healthcare professionals in the past 51 years, she lamented that a significant number of them have migrated to other parts of the world in search of better conditions of service.

She also highlighted the gross mal-distribution of healthcare professionals in the country, resulting in scarcity of skilled professionals in the rural communities where there is greater need. This situation, she said, calls for incentives to encourage voluntary drift of skilled professionals to the rural areas.

Esangbedo however said the establishment of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has created an improved opportunity for equitable healthcare services for the ordinary Nigerian.

Former Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Adedamola Dada, told The Guardian that Nigeria has not done well because countries which at one time were at the same level with the country have made tremendous improvement in their health system.

Dada explained: 'In 1960, the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, was ranked among the top five hospitals in the Commonwealth. Today, no hospital in Nigeria has any ranking.'

However, on his part, a consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and Medical Director of Optimal Specialist Hospital, Surulere, Lagos, Dr. Ugochukwu Chukwunenye, said: 'Well, I think we have made tremendous progress from independence till now.

If we look at it in various critical areas, we will see that we have made some progress. If we look at it in terms of training institutions for health, that is, manpower, the number and the depth of these institutions have increased over this time period.

'If we look at service-providing health institutions, again the number and the depth, even the spread,  has increased. If you look at it in terms of total number of trained personnel in each area, again there have been tremendous increase in this past 51 years and it keeps on increasing.'

Author of this article: By Chukwuma Muanya
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