President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed past leaders of the country, especially the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, for neglecting the health sector between 2010 and 2015.
Buhari said this while delivering a speech at the 58th Annual Delegates Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nigeria Medical Association in Abuja last Thursday.
The President, who was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said that when the global price of crude oil was over $100 barrel per day, the Jonathan administration failed to seize the opportunity to invest in the health sector.
Speaking at the event with the theme, ‘Quality Healthcare: An Indicator of Good Governance’, the President said that while investments in public health care must be improved, it is unlikely that it will be sufficient.
He said that paying for health care from budgets will not improve the health sector unless other concerned parties and donor agencies augment the government’s efforts.
Buhari said, “It is no longer news that we inherited a troubled health care sector and the sector has been troubled for a long time. “As one of the manifestations of the severely low spending on infrastructure generally and in health care in particular, I think that what we have seen through the years is a scandalously low level of funding for public health care in Nigeria.
“The level of public sector investment in health care in our recent past has, in no way, reflected our earnings, the high oil earnings, especially in the period between 2010 and 2015.
“That was when we earned the highest from oil prices.”
The President further stated that the insurgency in the North-East, which started in the same period, further brought the health sector to its knees, with the attendant impact on the level of immunisation and availability of medical personnel.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki, stressed the need for focus to be shifted to primary health care centres and not econdary and tertiary institutions. He added that the National Health Act would be fully implemented.
Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the government was working hard to curb medical tourism.
Adewole said the government was passionate about health care, noting that it was what informed the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, otherwise known as ‘Huwe,’ and the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement programme, which is a $90m project that allows Nigeria to build its capacity for faster detection of infectious disease outbreaks.