The Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on health matters, Dr. Salma Anas, said the poor attention to the primary health care in Nigeria adds to the burden of morbidity and mortality, especially due to pregnancy-related conditions.
Dr Anas also said the challenges of reducing maternal and child deaths remain the problem of poorly functional PHC system, alongside issues of low healthcare coverage for life-saving interventions; ill-equipped and weak service delivery systems; and low coverage with community and household-level interventions, among others.
Salma said this at the the seventh annual conference of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists in collaboration with the World Health Organisation in Nasarawa State, themed “Health security: Nigeria’s effort to achieve universal health coverage.”
She said the PHC is the fulcrum for a resilient health system and should be structured to be able to deliver services that will support the attainment of UHC and guarantees health security.
She said, “In Nigeria however, the PHC level of care has received the least attention and continues to add to the burden of morbidity and mortality especially due to pregnancy related conditions making it the weakest link of the health service delivery system.
“In the integrated system that we are promoting, our aspiration is to ensure that as soon as a pregnant woman visits a healthcare facility, the quality and level of care she requires to deliver a healthy child is assured including the payment for the services she would receive, ensuring that she is covered under one form of health insurance or the other.
“The role of the PHC in Improving access to healthcare towards the attainment of UHC in a holistic, comprehensive and sustainable manner that would impact on the productive potential of the people for desirous national growth and development of the country.”
The presidential aide noted that Nigeria is a contributor to the global burden of maternal and newborn deaths despite being about three per cent of the world population, and it is responsible for about 30 per cent of the world’s gap in achieving the global target of eradicating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
She said some of the socio-economic challenges contributing to preventable diseases and deaths also include general poor health-seeking behaviour due to poor literacy and socio-cultural factors, long distances to health facilities and lack of transport to referral facilities; poverty and lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene among others.
She, however, said the administration of Tinubu is determined to leave a legacy of a PHC system that is resilient in addressing existing challenges of inadequate and inequitable distribution, inadequate infrastructure, obsolete and inadequate equipment, inadequate and poorly skilled human resources, among others.
“The success of the interventions will be built on strong accountability mechanisms and renewed partnership models between the government, development partners, private sector, Civil Society Organisations, the community and the media,” she added.