Posted by By Dr. Ben Ayene on
HEALTH reform is a process. When we are talking about health, we are talking about all of us. The actual process of health reform has been on for over 10 years. It is in this administration that effort has been made to put it into proper perspective so that the ordinary Nigerian can have a better understanding of what its all about.
If we look at the health policy, we see that there was a health policy that was functional and approved in 1988, and sometime in 1995 it was reviewed because of the massive Health Summit which was held at that time.
It produced a document called the draft national health policy. Somehow that document did not see the light of day because it was never approved. But this time around when the concept of health sector reform came up again, there was so much to do and it was necessary to identify what actually are the areas that add up to what health really is. It was also necessary to prioritize. It was necessary to know what to do first so that others can easily fit in.
It is no secret that service delivery has been bad. The system have been virtually non-existent. If we look at health provision from all ramifications, there is confusion. From the level of policy, we discover that most of those really working within the health sector are not very conversant with what the policy issues are not to talk about the stewards or leaders of the system who hardly talk about health reform. It got so bad that in the 1999 Constitution, health reform was not given more than one sentence.
There is so much to talk about as far as health reform is concerned. There are the seven strategic thrusts which are driving the process. One of the key foundations of these seven strategic thrusts have to do with the stewardship role. This is important because if the stewards are not there to perform their role, everything collapses.
The country is lucky in the sense that the current Health Minister Prof. Eyitayo Lambo is reform-prone, but we also need to find out if indeed we are reforming. The Nigerian environment is condicive and friendly and we felt it was necessary to drive as fast as we can cash-in on this. As a result, so many things have been done at variuos levels. For instance, a lot of work has been done on the National Health Insurance Schemeand the National Health Policy.
For the first time ever, we now have a Bill for health which is actually a form of Health Act. A system without a Health Act cannot really and progress and this explains why we have been beating about the bush all these years. This Act that is in the process of getting to the National Assembly took just 12 months to get to this level. So much is going on. There is a blueprint for revitalisation of the Primary Health Care (PHC) system because it is the bedrock of the services that have to be rendered.
Next Tuesday: Health Minister speaks about how it all began.