Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Church and Healthcare Delivery

There is no gain saying the fact that healthcare delivery in Nigeria is in a deplorable condition. From primary to tertiary, health institutions are now shadows of what they are meant to be. Many even regard our hospitals now as mere consulting clinics. Factors responsible for this lamentable state of our healthcare delivery are numerous. One of them is inadequate funding by the tiers of government meant to cater for them. Over the years, subventions released to public health institutions have greatly reduced. These have hampered the purchase and maintenance of hospital equipment as well as lower the morale of health practitioners. Oftentimes, health workers have had to go on strike to press home their demands for better funding of the health sector as well as the prompt payment of their salaries and allowances.
The consequence of all these crises in the health sector is brain drain. I learnt that Nigerian doctors practising in United States of America alone are in the neighborhood of 25,000. Imagine if we are to add those in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Expectedly, because of the rot in our healthcare delivery, many rich Nigerians now travel abroad for medical attention. Those who do not have money to travel ask their loved ones abroad to buy and send them the drugs prescribed for them in Nigerian hospitals because of the prevalence of fake and adulterated drugs in the country.
Invariably, Nigerian citizens have gradually been made to be at the mercy of private health practitioners whose services are expensive. Do you blame them? They have to pay so much to deliver their services. The rent is huge, especially in Abuja; security has to be arranged to ward off criminals who sometimes pose as patients; generator has to be procured and maintained while the public power supply is on standby as it is mostly irregular. All these coupled with the cost of hospital equipment as well as other running costs leave the true practitioners with no choice but to charge prohibitive cost for their services. The failure of the state has also put Nigerians at the mercy of herbalists and fake spiritualists who claim to be able to cure virtually all diseases. It is worthy of note that many lives have been lost to the activities of these quacks and charlatans.
In this connection, I commend the fervor and enthusiasm that Nigerian churches have shown in the area of educational development with virtually every notable church establishing its own academic institutions- from primary school to university.I hereby recommend that the same energy and resources should be channeled towards founding and funding health institutions. As the saying goes, health is wealth. A healthy church is a wealthy church. The time has come for the church to be involved in bringing quality healthcare delivery to its followers. This, apart from being a means of winning souls for Christ, will generate employment for church members, bring affordable healthcare delivery to the people and ensure that our brethren do not die avoidable deaths.