18 Months…


by ndubuisi edeoga

Eighteen months.

That is the average duration of Health ministers tenures in Africa.

This is according to Dr Nigel Crisp in his book Turning the World Upside Down: the search for global health in the 21st Century, Read more here. This has to change for meaningful development to take foot hold.

In Nigeria, we have gone through 2 health ministers in the first three years of this administration. Two times already, we have had start afresh. We loose so much. The strategic planning and effective program implementation that needs follow through is lost in the throes of regime change.

The greatest legacy of the outgoing Minister of Health Professor Babatunde Osotimehin will be the new National Strategic Health Development PlanExtensive consultations on the plan took place, including  views from stakeholders at both the Federal and State levels, as well as development partners. Instructively, he was at the 53rd National Council on Health (NCH) meeting on the day before he lost his job in Asaba, the Delta State capital…presenting his the plan.

Now we pray that this plan will not be discarded…but will be the foundation of the development we seek.

The polio eradication program in Nigeria has for the first time in a long while shown commendable progress…this is according to Muhammad Ali Pate, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Nigeria.

The breakdown shows that in 2008, 800 cases of polio were recorded in Nigeria; 90% of which were due to the type 1 polio virus. By the end of 2009, there were 388 cases with only 28 cases in the last half of the year. The last type 1 case was at the end of October, 2009. In 2010 we have seen only one case of polio in Nigeria so far in 2010—a type 3 case in Bomadi in the Delta State in southern Nigeria.

As we eagerly await the announcement of our new health minister whose tenure will again last no more than 18 months, we pray that the new minister will continue all that is good in the health ministry and change only the things that need change.

18 months….


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Discussion3 Comments

  1. Actually the rapid turnover of Federal Ministers of health in Nigeria started even in the military era. The damage from lack of continuity is there for all to see. Especially damaging is the inertia in the National Assembly (NASS) to pass Health Bills – In 2005 Professor Eyitayo Lambo submitted a Bill to the NASS that could have achieved most of what Professor Osotimehin’s plan worked on again in 2008/9. But until Prof Lambo tenure ended in 2007, his Bill did not come out of the NASS.
    Perhaps all hope is not lost because if one remembers that it took 43 years to implement the National Health Insurance scheme ( Dr Majekodunmi, Nigeria’s first Federal Minister of Health submitted a Bill on Health Insurance in 1962) when President Obasanjo implemented the NHIS for the formal sector in 2005 against objections by Labour Unions ( which unfortunately still persists).

    What the in-coming Minister needs to do is ‘simple’ – get the Osotimehin National Strategic Health Plan passed into Law so that it does not matter how many more ministers Nigeria has, or how frequently they are changed, the will be a National Health Law that they must drive. Afterall, in Benin City all the states signed-on to the Plan ( only Ebonyi State did not sign-on in Benin, but I don’t really see why that state should not sign on soon. We must have a Health Service where Primary Care is the entry point, and which is integrated from Primary to Secondary and then Tertiary, each tier performing its core function in the continuum of patient care, rather than duplicating and wasting very scare human and materials resources!.mba

    Joseph Ana.

  2. Indeed turnover at the top of public services leads to disjointed strategic /long range planning.
    This is why the authors Bogdan and Bosin called for targeted planning in such organisations.
    But then in Nigeria research is hardly ever used in management practice. There needs to be some of of policy continuity if there is to be progress

  3. In the end, we will get another “visionary” health minister with own plans. So we are left again with nothing but plans. May I suggest future ministers cut the rhetoric and just get on with fighting the fires rather than loosing momentum on fruitless meetings with over paid consultants in strategy issues. There are many must-do-today projects and they litter the country. Here is a reason I will continue to dismiss out of hand any of the so called ministers.

    What is the turn around on any leadership project? By my calc which is unimportant is 3 months! How many projects did the previous minister successfully handed over to the heath service? That perhaps is the only question.

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