The Nigerian Public Health Network published this just before the new Nigerian government came into power as a discussion document. As we still wait for President Yaradua’s cabinet to be announced,here’s a response from a Nigerian health professional based in Abuja which provides food for thought for the incoming health minister.
Thanks for this wonderful piece and I am glad health professionals are becoming more sensitive to issues that are outside the purview of our clinical leanings based on the biomedical model of our medical training which makes the average health professional in Nigeria oblivious of the social determinants of health.We need to start re-orienting health people right from medischool.Our consultants and teachers need to get into the flow and start teaching from the global health mindset so that we can become more aware of the issues at hand.Save for the heightened interest in public health which gives us opportunities to work with International NGOs and Donor agencies, we still have not imbibed the tenets of public health holistically.Health practitioners still have not championed the course of health promotion and let people become aware of their ‘civic-health responsibilities”. We need to start deconstructing that mindset that makes us overlook the eductaion of the populace on the need to take responsibility for their health…lifestyle modification,knowledge of health risks for different population groups, etc. To be fair on the outgoing OBJ’s government, a lot of reforms at the strategic level of policy formulation and implementation were effectively coordinated by Prof Lambo.he spear-headed the health reforms and has upgraded and improved the policy environment by providing sub sector policy guidelines which the incoming government should show enough political will to pursue.That is where we the health people should play our advocacy roles and engage in affirmative action to bring health to the fore of governance.The improved health policy environment has made it easier for collaboration with many donors to become possible, and many more are getting involved bacause of these positive changes at the Federal Level.But the sad thing is that the federal system makes health fit into the concurrent list.And the National Assembly has refused to give accent to the National Health Bill on the grounds that the Federal Ministry of Health cannot legislate for the state and LGAs.AS it stands, no one can legally delineate the roles that states and LGAs should play, and when to hold them accontable for dereliction of their duties…and it is at the state and LGA levels that health services are the poorest.And if our states and LGAs fail us…what hope then do we have? There has to be a way of making the citizens know that they have a right to accessible and qualitative health care…so they can begin to push for it like human rights activities and gender activists have done to better the lot of the oppressed and minority groups.But in this case…we all are being oppressed healthwise! …………….. Felix Obi is the Health Expert with the Nigeria office of ,Japan International Cooperation Agency based in Abuja.email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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