Nigeria’s Health sector is set to receive a boost as the Federal Government and the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have agreed to dedicate 15 per cent of their annual national budget to the health sector.
Disclosing this, the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said t all the 36 State Governors, including the FCT Minister had all signed a document will see the state governments including the Federal Capital Territory committing 15 per cent of their budgets to the health sector from now to 2015.
In the area of malaria scaling up, he said that the Federal Government is stepping up efforts to address the issue headlong particularly the funding of operational cost for the distribution of insecticide treated mosquitoes nets whom he said the Association of local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) had been contacted and had indicated their willingness to support with operational funds to narrow the gap.
On Guinea worm eradication, he said that Nigeria was applauded in Geneva at the recent World Health Organization (WHO) Conference for eradicating the disease. He thanked WHO for the efforts made towards getting Nigeria certified Guinea worm free.
He expressed worry that in the area of disease surveillance, Nigeria is lagging behind adding that Nigeria does not have a coordinating system in place to respond swiftly to outbreak of epidemics.
He said that the recent Zamfara lead poisoning is a case study of Nigeria poor response to emergencies. He admitted that Nigeria surveillance failed adding that Nigeria came on top of the situation only when the mortality had already skyrocketed. He commended the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), WHO and other agencies for their timely intervention.
He stressed that Federal Government needs to beef up its surveillance system by co-opting both local and state governments to work in a collaborative manner in order to build up capacity for rapid response to emergencies.
He said that recently, Mr. President constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee to work on the Zamfara lead poisoning. the Minister of Mines and Steel Development is to chair the Committee. Other members include Minister of Health, Water Resources, Science and Technology and Minister of Environment. The Committee is to submit its report within the shortest possible time. He noted that the constitution of the Committee is extremely important because it is going to be a coordinated approach to the problem.
Prof.Chukwu said that it is not the problem that should be left to the Health Ministry alone; other Ministries he said should join to salvage the situation. He called on World health Organization to join the Committee so as to provide immediate technical assistance.
He reaffirmed that the Zamfara issue is right on Mr. President’s table and that underscores the urgency attached to the problem. He said that the Committee assignment should not be limited to Zamfara experience but should be extended to other areas where occupational hazards are possible pointing out that the Committee should stay beyond this assignment so as to address everything globally.
He said that government is trying to see how is going to engage Nigerian health practitioners in Diaspora stressing that many of them have shown their willingness to come back home to come and assist in whatever capacity. He added that Government is trying to put a frame work in place on how to engage them adding that a Steering Committee has been constituted with those in Diaspora being represented on it.
He said that Government is now revamping some teaching hospitals across the country which came under the vamed contract system. He said that 10 hospitals have been actually completed, 8 are on the first phase,6 are in the second phase out of these six, two have been completed. Aminu KanoTeaching Hospital and Usman Dan Fodio Teaching Hospital, Sokoto are waiting formal commissioning by Mr. President.
Earlier, WHO Country Representative, Dr.Peter Eriki commended Nigeria for recording huge success in the fight against polio and urged It not to relent in its effort in the fight against other child killer diseases.