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The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has asked the new ministers of health to intensify efforts aimed at making primary healthcare services accessible to Nigerians.

It’s president, Francis Faduyile, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, set three tasks for the ministers.

These include making primary healthcare sustainable at the rural level, interfacing with other ministers and ministries to achieve better healthcare services and influencing the federal government to increase health financing.

Mr Faduyile, speaking ahead of the NMA National Health Summit slated for November, said the association wants the ministers to provide an enabling environment “where patients will enjoy optimum healthcare services at minimal out of pocket spending.”

The theme of this year’s summit is “Patient Centred Care”.

The summit is holding a second time and happens every five years. Expected to attend the summit are local and international doctors.

Highlights

The NMA president said during the summit, the association will be focusing on patient care in the health sector “because patients are at the hub of health services delivery”.

He said the summit has helped drive the enactment of the National Health Act and Basic Health Care Provision Fund.

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“For this year, our focus is on patient-centered care,” he said.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, last week inaugurated Osagie Ehanire and Olorunnimbe Mamora as the new ministers of health.

Mr Ehanire, who was the minister of state for health under the former minister, Isaac Adewole, is expected to continue with the agenda of primary healthcare revitalisation just like his predecessor.

Meanwhile, Mr Faduyile said “the major problem is for us to be able to have a sustainable primary healthcare. It is beyond the ministry of health but it is primarily on the state government.

“We expect the new ministers to work with the states to ensure the increase of funding to make sure primary health centres are functional,” he said.

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Mr Faduyile said if primary healthcare is functional, the pressure on secondary and tertiary health institutions will reduce.

He also tasked the ministers to interface with other ministers to make the healthcare system sustainable.

“The new ministers must encourage the federal government to increase funding to health. They should also encourage the public to take part in health insurance. It is disappointing that 15 years after the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme, only about five per cent of Nigerian are enrolled under the scheme.”

The media secretary for the summit, Douglas Okor, said the association “for the first time is putting the Nigerian patient first”.

Mr Okor said the summit is expected to bring in new ideas on what the government can do to improve healthcare delivery in the country

“We want to ensure that all of these things are covered,” he said. “One of the things NMA is trying to do is to put healthcare at the centre of attention.”

“We want to make sure that healthcare is the main social political issue and not an aside issue. For the first time ever, the NMA is putting the Nigerian patient first, and that is a new thing,” he said.

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