By Tolulope Aina & Yinka Padonu
As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the African continent and Nigeria, in particular, is not isolated from the crisis.
If there are no lessons learnt from the crisis, one conspicuous takeback is that it has exposed the ill and comatose status of public health in Nigeria.
Despite Nigeria’s vast resources and wealth, the country’s health system has been critically ill, and battered by government’s lack of investment in the health system over the years. This is a country where politicians seek medical care abroad even when experiencing health issues as little as headache. But when the chips were down, our so-called leaders could not make an escape to other nations for medical care.
Painfully, the ordinary Nigerians have been the one who bears the brunt when it comes to receiving medical care here at home. Most of the government hospitals are underfunded.
Facilities are either not available or are totally dilapidated, yet government at the beginning of a new year announces a budget for the health sector.
The advent of Covid-19 has once again proven the sickening state of the nation’s health system. On 31 March 2020, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, admitted that “this crisis has exposed in the worst possible way the evident weaknesses of our health system”. Little wonder most Nigerian medical graduates prefer to seek greener pastures abroad.
However, thanks to COVID-19, many philanthropic Nigerians, individuals and corporate organizations have made huge donations towards the arrest and cure of this global pandemic. Many citizens have been asking questions as to how government intends to judiciously utilize these donations for the good of our common healthcare sector and more importantly combating this virus.
As the spread of Covid-19 knows no age, gender, race and social status, it is pertient to note that adequate upgrade of the nation’s healthcare system should be the top priority of the government.
The first wealth of a nation is its health. There is empirical evidence that the health of a nation significantly enhances its economic development, and vice versa.
With the news of the various forms of donations to the health sector, there has been an outcry by health workers to government to ensure that enough personal protective equipment are procured for them as well as clamour for better wage because they are our frontline foot soldiers in combating all manner of epidemic.
Accordingly, HSENations, an as organization and a stakeholder in the health, safety and environment sector hereby demand the following in the wake of these huge donations:
1. Increased pay for health workers and provision of hazard insurance.
2. Provision of addition molecular laboratories and testing capabilities.
3. Set up of isolation and treatment centres across the 36 states of the federation and FCT.
4. Provision of relief materials to poor and vulnerable Nigerians.