COVID-19: Okowa calls for sustainable healthcare financing in Nigeria

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Delta state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa has called for the adoption of a viable and sustainable healthcare financing programme for all the states across the country.

In a statement issued after his address at the 40th Annual General Meeting, AGM, and Scientific Conference of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, in Oghara, with the theme; “Health Care Infrastructure Optimization and Adaptation in the face of a Global Pandemic: The Coronavirus Challenge”, held at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara.

Okowa said that with an abysmal 0.5 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product , GDP, in public health spending, Nigeria had one of the lowest public healthcare financing globally.

He also advocated for a national policy on responding and managing unforeseen public health crises.

According to him, the absence of such a framework as well as the novel nature of the coronavirus, posed a major drawback in articulating a coordinated response at the initial stage of the pandemic in the country.

He commended medical doctors and healthcare providers for their courage, commitment and determination to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

He disclosed that Nigeria survived COVID-19 and previous public health emergencies/outbreaks due to the sacrifice, dedication, ingenuity and resourcefulness of healthcare providers.

Okowa, however, said “regrettably, many of them got infected during the pandemic, while some, sadly, paid the supreme price.”

He said “I believe we can turn this crisis into an opportunity to bolster our health infrastructure, expand capacity and upgrade manpower in the health sector in such a way that our healthcare system will be better poised to deal with future outbreaks.

“Testing was a huge problem because of the shortage of human resources, testing kits, laboratories, and case definition for testing that prioritizes symptomatic cases and their contacts.

“The whole country only attained a daily testing capacity of 2,500 samples late in July, which is a far cry from what it should be for a country of our size.

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