The Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria (IHVN), on Sunday, urged government at all levels to evolve more efficient measures that would revamp Nigeria’s health sector.
The institute’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Patrick Dakum told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the health sector has yet to be transformed, 61 years after the nation gained independence from Britain.
According to him, health development and human development are measured in terms of longevity of lives.
“Longevity of life is related to wellbeing, health promotion, death prevention and treatment, “he said.
Dakum said that Nigeria has yet to achieve much success in the areas of mortality and morbidity.
“Compare to other countries, Nigeria still has high infant and maternal mortality rates; high burden of tuberculosis and HIV, as well as high burden of non-communicable diseases.
“In terms of human resources for health, we are losing rather than gaining. We should ensure that the number of physicians and nurses should match our increasing population.
“We are still lagging in terms of the available number of doctors, nurses, pharmacists,” he said.
Dakum said that to address health workers` incessant strikes, governments should always provide for their welfare, as well as meet their demands.
“You don’t expect someone spending his life exposed to infections and all hazards not to be treated well. You see the numbers of health workers that died of COVID-19.
“All these require that they are not just paid their salaries but also provided with insurance and hazards cover.
“Many doctors are leaving the country today, not (only) because of the (poor) salaries.
“How can I be trained as a surgeon and then come to the hospital, the theatre is not working, the equipment are not functioning.
“If we are committed to healthcare, we must be committed to it in its totality, “he said.
Dakum said that it was imperative for governments to properly fund health institutions and facilities, starting from the primary to tertiary hospitals.
He said that doctors were willing to work in Nigeria and called for the revamping of the nation’s health institutions.
Dakum, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, however, commended Nigeria’s response to COVID-19.
According to him, Nigeria has done well in its swift response to the pandemic.
“I have been to several countries and I have seen what the responses are.
“The Presidential Steering Committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, has done a great job.
“The Director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, did so well that he has now moved on to the WHO.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is now doing a great job in terms of raising awareness for the nation.
“We also came out with vaccination policy that will help not only the COVID-19 but other infectious diseases in the country.
“While we are doing well, let us take the attention we mounted on this and apply it to the other areas of the health sector and the economy.”
The public health physician also advised Nigerians, who have yet to take COVID-19 vaccine, to do so, pointing out that the vaccines was safe.
Dakum advised Nigerians not to listen to conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“My advice is to say that if it is unsafe, I will not take it. I have taken the two doses and if the guideline comes up that we need to take the third dose, I will take it.
“I believe that the vaccines are all safe. When we say safe, we mean the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
“Even the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has already made statement on this and I am re-echoing it that please, go and take the COVID-19 vaccine.”