Now that no one can travel for treatment, we must take health sector seriously – SGF

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, says it is time to take Nigeria’s health care system seriously, particularly now that no one outside the country is able to seek medical attention.

Mustapha said his position as chairman of the presidential task force on COVID-19 on Thursday opened his eyes to the poor state of health-care services in Nigeria.

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The SGF said at a briefing on Friday the government didn’t do what it should have done at all times.

“Primary health systems are exclusively the responsibility of the local government, the secondary health system, that’s where the state comes in. The federal government has responsibility only for the tertiary. But over the years, there has been an abdication of responsibilities, you find the federal government even investing in the primary healthcare system. That’s why we have an agency,” he said.

“If you look at the total aggregate of the commitment of the government to health, it might not be 15% but we are near that.

“By the nature of our politics, even at the federal level, you find constituency projects that are primary health clinics. If you are to get the number of primary health clinics we have all over Nigeria, it’s over 10,000, but how many of them are working?

“So, it is a major issue, and that was part of my address yesterday when I spoke to the national assembly. We need to sit back and reconstruct our investments into the healthcare system. The federal government is doing a lot. Right now, there is a provision of 1% from the consolidated revenue fund which goes to the basic health care provision funds. I think it’s domiciled in the primary health care agency for distribution, the different sectors of our health system.

“We are doing good but not as good as we ought to. Investments into our healthcare infrastructure must be looked at, seriously. Right now nobody can go elsewhere to seek medical attention, so probably this is the right moment we have to be reflective and sit back and begin to address these issues. Nobody ever thought you couldn’t go anywhere to seek medical attention. Three months ago if you were told, you would not, it would not happen. But we are all confined here now.”

He added that he believes that this period would help in reflecting on how Nigeria deploys its resources going forward as a nation, with a focus on the basics that touches the lives of the people.